Sen. David Vitter (R-La.), Chairman of the Senate Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee, introduced S. 1470, the Recovery Improvements for Small Entities After Disaster Act of 2015 (or RISE After Disaster Act), which would help small businesses to recover and adapt more quickly after a major disaster. June 1st marks the beginning of hurricane season.
“When our Louisiana small businesses stayed closed after Katrina, it excruciatingly prolonged the recovery – which nearly ten years later is still going on. After a major disaster, we’ve learned that small businesses need some extra help to get back on their feet, and the RISE After Disaster Act will do exactly that,” said Vitter. “Small businesses are vital to a community’s economy and serve as the major source of jobs – one great incentive to have folks return after a major disaster -- and is why helping them to more quickly recover is one of the most effective and beneficial tactics we can and should take. As we get into hurricane season, I urge my colleagues to support and quickly pass the RISE After Disaster Act to make sure our local small businesses have the tools they need when major disasters strike.”
The RISE After Disaster Act would:
• Provide long-term recovery loans to small businesses through community banks after SBA disaster assistance is no longer available.
• Direct Federal agencies to utilize local contractors for response and recovery efforts, rather than government contractors from Washington, DC and other areas.
• Authorize counseling and technical assistance to help small businesses recover and resume operations.
• Address contractor malfeasance, such as the Chinese drywall crisis, by allowing homeowners and businesses to increase the size of their SBA disaster loans to remediate their property.
• Allow small businesses affected by major disasters to access surplus property from the Federal government to aid in their recovery.
• Provide incentives for innovative firms doing research & development to stay in the disaster-affected area, rather than move elsewhere.
• Reduce paperwork burdens on disaster victims.
• Require the SBA to take steps to establish a web portal for disaster assistance, whereby applicants can track the status of applications and approvals, as well as submit required supporting documentation electronically.
• Enable Small Business Development Center (SBDC) counselors to cross state lines to provide services and help small business clients when existing operations are disrupted in an affected area.
• Improve data sharing among Federal and state agencies providing disaster assistance.