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Byrne to SBA: More help, clarity needed for small businesses

By TODD STACY, Alabama Daily News

Congressman Bradley Byrne, R-Mobile, on Thursday led a bi-partisan letter to Small Business Administration Administrator Jovita Carranza asking the agency to offer more help and guidance for those seeking Economic Injury Disaster Loans, or EIDLs.

Byrne led the letter with Democratic Congressman Jim Cooper, R-Nashville, and it was cosigned by a group of 54 Republican and 46 Democratic lawmakers. Rep. Martha Roby, R-Montgomery, was also a co-signer of the letter.

In March, the SBA began allowing states to apply for the EIDL. The loan program helps qualified businesses and non-profit organizations recover from economic losses tied to the abrupt economic downturn triggered by the COVID-19 disease and efforts to stop its spread. The program offers up to $2 million in assistance for an eligible small business and at advance grant of up to $10,000 are available.

However, there are reports of “severe oversubscription” of the EIDL program and $10,000 advance grant being insufficient to meet the needs of businesses trying to survive in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, the lawmakers wrote.

In sum, we recognize the EIDL system was never designed to process a disaster of this magnitude, and we commend your team for working around the clock to remedy this challenge,” the letter reads. “However, we are concerned that many small businesses cannot wait much longer to receive EIDL funds from the federal government. Many of these businesses and other organizations need EIDL funds to supplement their Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan, are not good candidates for the PPP due to its requirements or are not eligible for that program at all. For that reason, we hope you will provide a briefing to us as soon as possible to address issues facing the EIDL program and how Congress can help the SBA meet these challenges.”

See the full letter HERE.

Byrne told Alabama Daily News he pushed to send the letter to make the SBA aware of the challenges his constituents and others have faced with accessing the disaster loans. And while much of the national focus has been on the Paycheck Protection Program, many businesses don’t qualify for that program and need the specific assistance of EIDL, he said.

“Unfortunately, the unprecedented demand for the program has left small businesses waiting weeks for these grants, receiving less than they expected, and often struggling to learn if their applications were even received,” Byrne said. “With this bipartisan letter, we are making clear to the SBA that Congress stands ready to work with them to ensure these grants are distributed quickly and in the amounts necessary to provide much-needed relief to small business owners and employees across the country.

“Time is of the essence as small businesses continue to struggle. We must get this right.”


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