Washington, DC- As winter storms hit Pennsylvania, U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) announced that he is backing a bipartisan piece of legislation to help small businesses recover from the impacts of extreme weather. The bill, the bipartisan Small Business Disaster Reform Act of 2013, would ease burdens for businesses applying for smaller loans in the wake of disasters and would help out of state small business development centers coordinate with Pennsylvania businesses during an emergency when in-state small business development centers may not be operating due to the weather emergency.
“This week’s winter storm is a reminder of the unique challenges that our state faces from extreme weather,” Senator Casey said. “This commonsense legislation will ensure that small businesses can get the help they need after a storm without unnecessary risks or burdens.”
The purpose of this bill is to 1) require the SBA to use all other types of collateral on small business disaster loans other than a business owner’s primary residence; and 2) to authorize Small Business Development Centers to assist other geographical areas when needed.
Section 1 of the bill clarifies that, for SBA disaster business loans less than $200,000 that SBA is required to utilize assets other than the primary residence if those assets are available to use as collateral towards the loan. This provision will ensure that SBA is responsive to the needs of small businesses seeking smaller amounts of disaster assistance. Businesses seeking smaller loans are often experience the biggest burdens in way of liens on their primary personal residential homes when they could conceivably provide sufficient business assets as collateral for the loan. The SBA has at its disposal multiple ways to secure loans. This bill makes that SBA’s policy – that for smaller business loans, personal homes should be collateral of last resort. This removes a major psychological hurdle for business owners and helps SBA in marketing these loans for future disasters.
Section 2 of the bill authorizes the SBA to allow out-of-state small business development centers (SBDCs) to provide assistance in Presidentially-declared disaster areas. This is currently prohibited. As it stands presently, SBDCs are unable to provide assistance outside their geographical area, which severely slows economic recovery after major disasters. This provision would allow Pennsylvania SBDCs to assist other areas in times of large catastrophic disasters, or vice versa. The SBA will reimburse out of state SBDCs for appropriate expenses incurred. It also includes language allowing SBDC counselors into disaster recovery centers, which is the current practice.