Velazquez Calls for Cuomo to Aid Explosion-Impacted Businesses
Washington, DC – U.S. Rep. Nydia M. Velázquez (D-NY) today called on Governor Cuomo to help small businesses impacted by the Chelsea explosion. Under federal law, a state’s governor can certify that businesses have suffered economic harm from a disaster, which then allows small businesses, homeowners and renters to apply for emergency loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). In a letter to Cuomo, Velázquez called for the Governor to exercise this option.
“It’s important we use every tool at our disposal to help businesses harmed by the Chelsea explosion get back on their feet,” Velázquez said. “Governor Cuomo has the authority, right now, to facilitate emergency federal loans and I’m hopeful he’ll take this step.”
Velázquez serves as the top Democrat on the House Small Business Committee, which has jurisdiction over the SBA. She has previously authored legislation improving the agency’s emergency lending function and reopening the loan application window for businesses that were harmed by Hurricane Sandy.
The full text of Velázquez’s letter is below.
September 20, 2016
The Honorable Andrew M. Cuomo
Governor of New York State
NYS State Capitol Building
Albany, NY 12224
Dear Governor Cuomo:
I am writing to you with urgency regarding the economic impact of the recent intentional explosion and ensuing damage in the Chelsea neighborhood of New York City and to request your assistance in helping the affected small businesses, homeowners, and renters obtain disaster loans from the Small Business Administration (SBA).
On Saturday, September 17, 2016, an improvised explosive device detonated in the vicinity of West 23rd Street and 6th Avenue in Manhattan. The explosion resulted in injuries to at least 29 people and damage to a number of buildings. The explosion has unfortunately jeopardized the economic well-being of this vibrant neighborhood by forcing small businesses to close while damage is repaired.
Both our local firms and residents are feeling the impact of this intentional explosion. Small businesses tend to have little cash reserves, and limited ability to raise capital. As a result, small business are often disproportionally impacted when disasters like this occur. Homeowners and renters are also struggling to make repairs and stave off additional losses of personal property. SBA’s assistance can help address these problems immediately and help our residents begin to recover.
I know you are well aware of the importance that SBA disaster loans play in preserving the economic health of our nation’s local economies. In most circumstances, SBA disaster loans permit small businesses to stave off bankruptcy and assist homeowners in fixing their residences. As a result, local economies are stabilized and the prospects of future economic growth are emboldened.
Under Section 3(k) of the Small Business Act, a “disaster” is defined as a “sudden event, which causes severe economic damage.” The intentional explosion in New York City clearly meets the statutory definition both in terms of the unexpected nature of such acts and the evidence of substantial economic damage.
In the absence of a disaster declaration by the President of the United States, the Secretary of Agriculture, or the Administration of the SBA, section 7(b)(2)(D) of the Small Business Act permits a Governor of a state in which a disaster occurred to certify to the SBA that a small business concern(s) has suffered economic injury as a result of a disaster and that it is need of financial assistance that is not available on reasonable terms and conditions.
While the SBA typically makes funds available for disasters that have caused widespread economic injury, some disasters, like terrorist attacks, result in localized economic injury. I believe that such businesses that are adversely affected by a localized disaster should be eligible for assistance under the SBA’s disaster loan program and, to this end, I request that you exercise your authority as provided for in section 7(b)(2)(D) of the Small Business Act. By providing this certification to the SBA, you will help New York City small businesses rebuild, save local jobs, and bolster a community trying to recover from this terrible act.
I am aware of your record of support for New York small businesses and I thank you in advance for your consideration of this urgent matter.
Nydia M. Velázquez
Member of Congress
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