Cantwell, Top Obama Small Business Official: Recovery from 530 Mudslide is a Top Priority
Senator: Long-term focus on supporting families and businesses affected by the disaster
ARLINGTON, WA – Today, U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) – new chairwoman of the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship – told small business owners affected by the State Route 530 mudslide that the U.S. Small Business Administration is committed to helping the community move forward and weather economic damage caused by the disaster.
Cantwell and new SBA administrator Maria Contreras-Sweet held a roundtable at Arlington City Hall with local officials and small business owners affected by the mudslide. Prior to the roundtable, Cantwell and Contreras-Sweet convened a Senate committee field hearing in Seattle on two SBA programs that invest into cutting-edge research by small businesses and drive job growth.
Arlington Mayor Barb Tolbert and Darrington Mayor Dan Rankin, a small mill owner, attended the roundtable with about 25 local business owners. The SBA has approved $400,000 in low-interest loans for those impacted by the landslide. Fourteen loan applications have been accepted so far.
“The true grit and spirit of this community is very apparent,” Cantwell said during the roundtable. “We want to make sure we are getting a comprehensive view of the challenges this region faces, especially with the closure of State Route 530. We know this isn’t to be simple, so we want to get a more comprehensive look what resources we have and where we need to be creative to help this community move forward.”
The SBA oversees low-interest loans to businesses that are damaged or suffer economic loss from a natural disaster. SBA also administers loans to homeowners to help with damages not covered by insurance.
So far, the federal government has supported Snohomish County with $10 million in disaster recovery and cleanup efforts after the State Route 530 slide. That includes $7.5 million in FEMA funds for first responders, $1 million in Department of Labor national emergency grants, and $1 million in emergency funds from the Department of Transportation.
Cantwell’s visit followed President Obama’s tour of the area on the one-month anniversary of the March 22 disaster that has killed at least 41 people, destroyed dozens of homes, and blocked a section of State Route 530. Small businesses face lingering economic effects from the closure of the highway, which is a main transportation link between Darrington and Arlington.
“This administration is here to help. We want to use the power of the federal government to break down siloes and get this community the resources it needs to rebuild and grow,” Contreras-Sweet said. “We encourage all residents in the area to apply for SBA assistance. We stand ready to offer all of the SBA’s resources in any way we can.”
Prior to the roundtable, Cantwell and Contreras-Sweet convened a Senate committee field hearing in Seattle on two SBA programs that invest into cutting-edge research by small businesses and drive job growth. SBA innovative technology research programs have invested $880 million in Washington state small businesses, helping more than 3,000 businesses grow, including companies such as Sonicare, maker of the electric toothbrush, and Aculight, a Bothell-based developer of laser technology for defense, aerospace and medical uses.
Washington state – recently ranked by Bloomberg as the #1 most innovative state – is uniquely poised to grow jobs with more efficient small business investment.
Cantwell and Contreras-Sweet heard testimony from the University of Washington’s Center for Commercialization and from Seattle-area businesses that have grown and created jobs due to federal investments in small business research. They also heard testimony from the Government Accountability Office on a report showing that eight of 11 federal agencies participating in the program didn’t comply with obligations for small business research. She said she’ll work to ensure federal agencies work more effectively with small businesses.
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