Guzman Touts SBA’s Progress, but More Capital Still Needed
Recently, Rep. Steve Womack, R-Ark., visited family-owned oil and gas company Pruitt when the small business told the congressman that it would not have survived the pandemic had it not been for the Paycheck Protection Program funding it received.
“PPP supported local jobs and that company,” said the ranking member of the House Appropriations Committee’s subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government Friday. However, as he delivered his opening remarks during the Small Business Administration oversight hearing, he expressed concern that the FY22 discretionary budget request the SBA released Friday afternoon has a 9.4% increase from last year instead of the demand decreasing as the pandemic seems to be in its final leg.
But the post-pandemic recovery is expected to take more than six months from the date it is even declared officially over, said SBA Administrator Isabella Guzman. Despite the demand beginning to “wind down,” she explained, the agency “[continues] to see the need for capital” to continue supporting the nation’s 30 million small businesses. The hearing focused primarily on the food and beverage industry, primarily restaurants and independent contractors.
So far, Guzman said, 95% of PPP loans have gone out to small businesses with 20 or fewer employees. The initial PPP funds allocated by Congress have been “nearly exhausted,” she added.
She pointed to key figures to show how “work has intensified” at the agency, from the initial pandemic-related relief funding of the Payment Protection Program and the COVID-19 Economic Injury Disaster Loans, to newly rolled out programs like the $28.6 billion Restaurant Revitalization Fund program, the $16.2 billion Shuttered Venues Operators program and the $100 million Community Navigator Pilot program. The latter, which was just announced this week, will allow the SBA to “get more hyperlocal” with local, trusted partners that will work with their local communities, both urban and rural, that are underserved. This is particularly so for women, people of color, and veterans, she said, who have been identified as priority access for all of the SBA’s COVID relief programs.
By the time the RRF application portal closed on Monday, the SBA had received over 372,000 applications for a total of over $76 billion in requested funds. This is more than 2.5 times the amount Congress allocated towards the program, said Rep. Matt Cartwright, D-Penn., who worried about how this could impact independent restaurants that are the “cornerstones of communities” in the US.
Describing this as a “huge deficit,” Guzman noted the Independent Restaurant Coalition and the National Restaurant Association had expressed the need for more funds and “that [need is] proven with the with the demand in the applications.”
However, both Womack and Cartwright expressed concern over the fraudulent activity that has been revealed by bad actors, with Womack emphasizing the need to ensure proper checks of eligibility and particularly the immigration status of applicants in the RRF. Cartwright noted the fraudulent scams that targeted the PPP and EIDL.
Nevertheless, Guzman said the SBA’s commitment is to a “high level of oversight to limit fraud and abuse” while simultaneously rolling out the funds “swiftly, efficiently and equitably.”
In The News
House lawmakers on Friday introduced sweeping antitrust legislation aimed at restraining the power of large tech companies and preventing corporate consolidation across the economy. Introduced by Antitrust Subcommittee Chairman David Cicilline, D-R.I., and Antitrust Subcommittee Ranking Member Ken Buck, R-Colo., the five bills are directed squarely... Read More
The state of Kansas has been awarded Area Development Magazine’s prestigious Gold Shovel award in recognition of its successful year attracting high-value business investment. Over $6 billion in new business dollars and more than 26 thousand jobs have been created within the state of Kansas since... Read More
Open to All and Yelp hosted a panel with leaders from Gap, H&M and The Body Shop to discuss ways to promote inclusivity on Thursday. Executives with the companies discussed rainbow-washing and inclusivity that goes beyond Pride Month. Rainbow-washing is the act of using rainbow and... Read More
The Supreme Court this week decided to leave in place a $2 billion verdict in favor of women who claim they developed ovarian cancer from using Johnson & Johnson talc products. As is their custom, the justices did not comment Tuesday on why they rejected Johnson & Johnson's... Read More
COLUMBUS, Ohio - As Congress continues to grapple with whether high-speed internet should be considered essential infrastructure, as important as water and electricity, Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost took an unprecedented step against Alphabet's Google yesterday. In what the AG's office statement describes as a "landmark... Read More
NEW YORK (AP) — Couples in the U.S. are racing to the altar in a vaccination-era wedding boom that has venues and other vendors in high demand. With restrictions on large gatherings loosening, wedding planners and others who make the magic happen said they've started pushing... Read More