WASHINGTON – Today Senators John Kerry and Edward Kennedy and Congressman Richard Neal praised the federal government’s swift disaster declaration for those devastated by the massive fire in the Uxbridge Mill complex early Sunday. Kerry, Kennedy and Neal wrote to the Small Business Administration (SBA) urging the agency to approve the state’s request for disaster aid. The declaration will allow the estimated 135 impacted businesses and homeowners to apply for low-interest disaster loans through the federal government.

“I spoke to SBA Administrator Preston today and urged his immediate attention to aiding the Uxbridge Bernat Mill small businesses,” said Senator Kerry. “I applaud Mr. Preston and the agency for moving quickly so that every resource is made available to the businesses seeking to rebuild their livelihoods and their community. I will continue to work with the SBA, state officials, and my colleagues to get these Uxbridge entrepreneurs back in business.”

Senator Kennedy said “This help and assistance is a first step in rebuilding after this devastating fire destroyed so many businesses, and I’m pleased that the SBA has acted so quickly on behalf of those impacted in the Commonwealth.”

"After visiting the devastated Bernat Mill Complex today, and meeting with many of the small business owners and workers, it was clear that immediate disaster relief was needed. I applaud the US Small Business Administration for their quick decision to make disaster assistance available to those in Uxbridge displaced by the fire. I am certain that with the combined efforts of those in the public and private sector, we can bring this success story in central Massachusetts back to life," said Congressman Richard E. Neal.

Kerry, Chairman of the Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, is also working to pass legislation that will improve the federal government’s disaster loan program. The Small Business Disaster Response and Loan Improvements Act would increase the size of low-interest loans, provide short-term relief while businesses wait for insurance payments or other assistance, and expedite the loan processing process.