Rep. Barletta working to lower high SBA disaster loan interest rate
HAZLETON – U.S. Rep. Lou Barletta, PA-11, is demanding the U.S. Small Business Association offer the same interest rate to businesses affected by flooding in Northeastern Pennsylvania that it did to businesses affected by Hurricane Katrina along the Gulf Coast.
The SBA is offering businesses an interest rate of 4.0 percent – much higher than the 2.9 percent rate offered to businesses affected by Hurricane Katrina along the Gulf Coast.
“For the past week, I’ve talked to dozens of business owners in Luzerne and Columbia counties who’ve lost everything – their shops, their inventory, their fixtures, their equipment. Many of the business owners I’ve spoken with are debating whether or not to reopen or close forever. Now, for the SBA to offer a ridiculously high interest rate in the name of disaster relief to these business owners is a slap in their faces. It’s saying that the bureaucrats in Washington don’t care if they reopen or not. That’s unacceptable, and I won’t sit back and let it happen,” Rep. Barletta said. “As a member of the House Small Business Committee, I am going to fight to lower that rate, find out why it was so high in the first place, and try to change the system.
“I want the same rate that businesses in New Orleans received after Hurricane Katrina. This is no less a disaster to the businesses here than Katrina was to those there. We have one of the highest unemployment rates in the state, and a rate higher than the national average.
“The people of the 11th District and Northeastern Pennsylvania need their jobs, and we can’t afford for these businesses to close.
“The federal government has no problem spending money building roads and bridges and hospitals and schools in foreign countries, but it balks at giving a reasonable interest rate to American businesses devastated by a natural disaster. This isn’t fair, and I’m not going to stand for it.
“This is a natural disaster. It should not be a money-making operation for the federal government.”
Rep. Barletta is calling officials from the U.S. Small Business Association to discuss the high interest rate and push for a lower one.