November 18, 2021
Houlahan Presses Small Business Administration on Natural Disaster-Related Relief
WASHINGTON – This week, Representative Chrissy Houlahan (D-PA) questioned the Small Business Administration (SBA) Administrator, Isabella Casillas Guzman, on efforts to help small businesses impacted by natural disasters like Hurricane Ida. After historic flooding and winds devastated small businesses throughout Chester and parts of Berks counties, Houlahan heard from small business owners who were forced to close their doors permanently and dozens more on the verge of doing the same.
“As an entrepreneur, I know it’s difficult for small businesses to make payroll under normal circumstances,” said Houlahan. “But after a pandemic, global supply chain issues, and then a hurricane? It’s an incredibly trying time. Small business owners are worn out—and I don’t blame them.”
“We aren’t doing enough to help our Main Streets recover after natural disasters,” Houlahan continued. “So I wanted to take this opportunity to thank Administrator Guzman for her efforts so far but also press her to consider PPP-style loans with grant opportunities for businesses impacted by severe weather just like we did during the pandemic. Future storms are inevitable—we can all agree on that. The question is whether or not we can expand this program before the next storm rolls around.”
According to a 2019 report, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) estimates 40 – 60 percent of small businesses never reopen their doors after a disaster. Furthermore, Administrator Guzman acknowledged during the hearing that businesses that are closed for at least five days have a 90 percent chance of failure within one year.
During Tuesday’s House Small Business Committee hearing, Houlahan asked Administrator Guzman if she believed the status quo was sufficient to support small businesses and whether the SBA should be doing more to support small businesses after natural disasters beyond low-interest loans.
“Yes, we do agree that recovery is a long tale for communities and for businesses,” said Guzman. “And I’d like to see the SBA engaging more in that recovery and providing support.”
Full details of the hearing including Administrator Guzman’s testimony and the full video recording can be found here.
Houlahan is an Air Force veteran, an engineer, a serial entrepreneur, an educator and a nonprofit leader. She represents Pennsylvania’s 6th Congressional District, which encompasses Chester County and southern Berks County. She serves on the House Armed Services Committee, the House Foreign Affairs Committee and the House Small Business Committee. She is the recipient of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Abraham Lincoln Leadership for America Award which “recognizes members who demonstrate the bipartisan leadership and constructive governing necessary to move our country forward.”