Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship Chair Mary L. Landrieu [D-La., pictured] -- along with Sens. Thad Cochran [R-Miss.] and Roger Wicker [R-Miss.] -- just introduced a bill that provides financial relief to as many as 11,000 businesses in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Texas.
These small businesses are still rebuilding after Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, Gustav and Ike. With this bipartisan legislation, they have the potential to create or save up to 40,000 jobs.
"The small businesses in these hard-hit areas have not survived just one disaster, but three: Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005; Hurricanes Gustav and Ike in 2008; and, last year, the Deepwater Horizon [oil spill] disaster," said Sen. Landrieu. "These valuable, pioneer businesses took the initiative to quickly reopen after the storms, and gave communities the confidence to come home. If residents see their local gas station or their favorite restaurant open, they are more likely to come back to rebuild their homes -- spurring economic growth in these devastated areas.
"As we approach the sixth anniversary of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, we must ensure that these pioneers can make it past this anniversary. This legislation will help these businesses not just survive, but grow and hire workers."
"The economic recovery, both on the Gulf Coast and nationally, has been stubbornly slow," said Cochran. "Easing the federal loan burden on small businesses that quickly rebuilt after successive hurricanes should help with job creation. I support this legislation as a worthwhile tool to continue rejuvenating the economy of Southern Mississippi and the Gulf Coast region."
"Gulf Coast small businesses and entrepreneurs continue to recover from Hurricane Katrina and the devastation caused by last year’s oil spill," said Wicker. "Economic opportunities created by this legislation would provide an important boost at a critical time for the entire region."
The Southeast Hurricanes Small Business Disaster Relief Act of 2011 would give the Small Business Administration [SBA] the authority to waive up to $15,000 of the interest payments for businesses in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Texas over three years. The SBA is required to give priority to applications with the following credentials:
* Businesses with 50 employees or fewer;
* Businesses affected by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, that reopened between September 2005 and October 2006;
* Businesses affected by Hurricanes Gustav and Ike, that reopened between September 2008 and January 2009; and/or
* Businesses that suffered substantial economic injury from the Deepwater Horizon disaster
Representative Cedric Richmond [D-La.] will be introducing the House companion bill. Last Congress, a similar proposal received support from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the U.S. Conference of Mayors, the New York Times, the Times Picayune, and other Gulf Coast groups.
Applications for the program would not be accepted after March 31, 2012.
Once again, Sen. Landrieu is leading an impressive bipartisan initiative to serve the far-reaching interests of small businesses. Entrepreneurs of all political stripes are fortunate that she's doing so.
Hopefully, Congress will act swiftly to pass the Senate and House versions of this legislation, so that Gulf Coast small-business owners can focus on growing their enterprises -- and the U.S. economy.
SOURCES: U.S. Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, Wikipedia
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