WASHINGTON — In a letter to the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Acting Administrator Sandy Baruah, Sen. John Kerry, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, along with Sen. Chuck Schumer, outlined steps the agency should take immediately to help entrepreneurs.

“Experts say it will take months for the rescue package to reach small businesses,” said Kerry. “But small businesses can’t wait any longer for a lifeboat to arrive. They need help now and the SBA has that power.”

To help, Kerry urged the SBA to first make bridge loans available through the disaster loan program, as was done following 9-11. This would provide immediate help to small firms because the government would disburse the loans directly and businesses won’t need to wait for the rescue package to reach private lenders. Next, the SBA should change their 504 loan program to allow borrowers to refinance and access some of the equity they’ve built up in their businesses. This has been done on a case-by-case basis in the past and is necessary now because even good borrowers don’t have the funds needed to make it through this recession or expand their business. Finally, the SBA should stabilize their largest lending program.

Kerry has seen no action from the administration since sending a letter to President Bush two weeks ago urging him to encourage the SBA to step in. In addition to letters and hearings that pushed for action over the past year, Kerry also introduced the Small Business Lending Market Stabilization Act of 2008 in September, which temporarily suspends fees for government-guaranteed small business loans. Senator Obama has proposed a similar measure.

“The Administration has failed to listen to my warnings in the past,” said Kerry. “My hope is that they’ll see the desperate state small firms are in and take steps to inject needed capital into the hands of entrepreneurs, capital needed to pay their employees, stock their shelves and keep the lights on through the holiday season.”

“The small business sector in this country is the engine of economic growth, and we need to keep the engine running during this financial crisis. The best way to do that is through expedient, targeted and effective lending through the SBA,” said Schumer.

Please click here to read the letter.