COCHRAN & WICKER COSPONSOR DISASTER RELIEF BILL
FOR GULF COAST SMALL BUSINESSES

Measure Would Waive Interest Payments on SBA Disaster Assistance Loans

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) and Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) are cosponsoring legislation to help thousands of small businesses on the Gulf Coast by waiving interest payments on federal disaster loans issued after recent hurricanes.

Cochran and Wicker are primary cosponsors of the Southeast Hurricanes Small Business Disaster Relief Act, which was introduced Monday by Senator Mary Landrieu (D-La.). The measure would direct the Small Business Administration (SBA) to establish a disaster relief program for small businesses in Mississippi, Louisiana, Alabama and Texas that were affected by disaster areas created by Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, Gustav and Ike.

“The economic recovery, both on the Gulf Coast and nationally, has been stubbornly slow. 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,” Cochran said.

“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 legislation authorizes the SBA to implement a Southeast Hurricanes Small Business Disaster Relief Program for waiving up to $15,000 in interest payments due on SBA disaster loans issued after Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, Gustav and Ike. The bill also includes a provision to address businesses that incurred significant economic injury from the BP Deepwater Horizon disaster last year.

A business could apply to have its interest payments waived for up to three years, though applications would not be accepted after March 31, 2012.

The legislation would give priority to small businesses with 50 or fewer employees. Priority would also be granted to firms that resumed business operations in a declared disaster area between September 2005 and October 2006 for Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, and between September 2008 and January 2009 for Hurricanes Gustav and Ike.

This legislation has been referred to the Senate Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee, which Landrieu chairs.

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