US Small Business Administration administrator visits Norfolk to talk pandemic economic relief

NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — Isabella Guzman, the 27th administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration, joined lawmakers in Norfolk on Tuesday to discuss pandemic economic relief programs for small businesses.

Guzman visited Torch Bistro on Orapax Street at 1 p.m., with local members of Congress Rep. Elaine Luria (D-2nd District) and Rep. Bobby Scott (D-3rd District), as well as Del. Steve Heretick (D-Portsmouth) and Norfolk Mayor Kenny Alexander.

Torch Bistro is one of the businesses that received money from the Small Business Administration through the Restaurant Revitalization Fund. SBA is a resource for small businesses backed by the federal government.

From Guzman’s discussions, she says the funds were put to good use and even helped afford employees who are in high demand right now.

“With the relief, businesses were able to adapt to the workforce changes that are taking place and either pay their employees more or retain them in the first place. So definitely, the programs the SBA [offered] through the American Rescue Plan had made an impact in this important restaurant industry,” Guzman said.

Chris Johnson sees the help as the life jacket that kept his restaurant, Torch Bistro, afloat. 

“It would have been tough, but more than likely, we probably would have closed doors,” said Johnson.

Congressman Bobby Scott says he believes their efforts to help the “little guys” have proven successful.

“We are just delighted these programs have worked,” said Scott.

Administrator Guzman says for businesses still looking for help, some funds are still available, specifically through the Economic Injury Disaster Loan, which she says is long-term, low cost.

Guzman also went to Synergy Health Systems in Portsmouth Tuesday where she met with local entrepreneurs who received economic aid. 

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