WASHINGTON -- Sen. John F. Kerry, Chairman of the Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, today introduced emergency legislation to provide extensive relief to small businesses affected by the tragic September 11 events. The American Small Business Emergency Relief and Recovery Act of 2001 is designed to mitigate bankruptcies, business closures, and lay-offs directly related to the attacks. "Small businesses in America are among the first to feel the pain when economic disaster strikes but that also means that they are central to the re- birth of a strong and vibrant national economy," said Sen. John F. Kerry, "Small businesses in ground zero represent only a small fraction of the economic devastation as a result of the attacks. From Philadelphia to San Francisco small businesses - from bagel suppliers to computer vendors to tour bus operators -- are reeling. This legislation will ensure that small businesses everywhere have the resources to weather this storm and help drive the recovery of our national economy."

The Small Businesses that would receive low-interest or no-cost recovery loans under the legislation fall into three categories:

Small businesses directly affected because they are physically located in or near the buildings or areas attacked or closed for security measures. For example, covered businesses might include a brokerage firm located in one of the World Trade Center Towers or an independent souvenir shop in an airport closed for security. These businesses will be eligible for SBA's economic injury disaster loans, under more favorable terms, such as deferring the payments and forgiving the interest on these loans for two years, as well as increasing the loan caps and extending the deadline for applying for disaster loans to one year.

Small businesses not physically damaged or destroyed or in the vicinity of such businesses, but directly or indirectly affected by the attacks. Such business might be a supplier, service provider or in a complementary industry to any affected industry, especially the financial, hospitality, travel and tour industries, or are dependent upon the business of a closed or suspended business or sector. These businesses are eligible for 7(a) loans (Prime + 1), tailored to be easier to qualify for, to have lower interest rates, and to offer the option of deferring the principal payments for one year.

Small businesses in need of capital and investment financing, procurement assistance or management counseling in the economic aftermath of September 11th. These businesses will have access to a variety of SBA's programs with incentive features, such as waiving the borrower's fee for a regular 7(a) loan (Prime + 1)for working capital and access to venture capital to protections for small business contractors held up by federal security actions.