In a letter to Small Business Administrator (SBA) Isabella Guzman, Congressman Michael San Nicolas pressed the need for equitable funding for Guam and the Territories in the Restaurant Revitalization Fund (RRF) and Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) programs administered by the SBA.
“Program details clearly illustrate that both the RRF and EIDL application approvals for Guam and the territories were significantly disproportionate to the continental United States, and that needs to be addressed,” said Congressman San Nicolas. “With our economy COVID flatlined we need to make every effort to highlight these disparities as additional funding in the Congress is deliberated, because our businesses and their employees need to be fairly supported,” Congressman San Nicolas added. “We have formally engaged the SBA Administrator along with Senator Frank Blas Jr. to specifically highlight this issue so that it is on the record that we are seeking equity and fairness as new funds become available,” Congressman San Nicolas concludes.
The RRF was a grant program created by Congress to help restaurants throughout the nation open and stay open. The EIDL was the first grant program Congress authorized to help businesses stay afloat in the early days of the pandemic. Both grant programs ran out of money on Guam early on.
“Over 400,000 small business across the nation have closed since the beginning of this pandemic, and millions more continue to struggle to make ends meet,” Mr. San Nicolas’s letter to Ms. Guzman states. “For my district, the U.S. Territory of Guam, this same risk is concentrated in just 3,556 establishments that normally would be employing over 60,0002 individuals in a tourism driven economy that has all but disappeared with COVID-19 closing off our Asian markets.”
The congressman’s office researched data on the RRF throughout the nation and compared the national approval rate versus that of the territories. “Specifically, RRF applications submitted from districts within the continental US were approved 36.5% of the time while only 15.5% of applicants from the territories were approved,” he wrote. “It is clear that unintended funding disparities exist.”
Mr. San Nicolas also attached an August 26 letter Sen. Frank Blas, Jr. wrote to Ms. Guzman, expressing his concern about the time it is taking for Guam companies to receive the EIDL.
“The fact of the matter is, that a growing number of establishments no longer have the luxury of time or financing options to wait and remain open, whilst they cling to the chimeric hope for a favorable response and receipt of funds to help ensure the perpetuality of their business,” Mr. Blas wrote to Ms. Guzman.
“While provisions for dispensing critical and immediate relief were legislated, millions of applicants needing hundreds of billions of dollars in federal assistance continue to struggle with EIDL monies stagnated at the pipeline,” the congressman wrote in his letter to Ms. Guzman. “With the social and financial well-being of small businesses contingent on the relief Congress provided during these pandemic times, the responses and decisions of SBA determine the fate of hardworking Americans.”