Huizenga Joins Bipartisan Effort to Save Our Stages, Hold SBA Accountable
Washington, June 16, 2021
Tags: Jobs and the Economy
Today, Congressman Bill Huizenga (MI-02) joined over 200 of his House colleagues in a bipartisan letter to Administrator Isabel Guzman of the Small Business Administration urging immediate action to stabilize and improve the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant (SVOG) program, which provides emergency assistance grants to venues that were unable to operate during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The rollout of the SVOG program has been plagued by technical challenges and persistent delays. Since launching the program in April, the SBA has approved roughly 400 grants as of June 14 – despite receiving more than 14,000 applications. In their letter, Huizenga and his colleagues requested a detailed explanation of ongoing issues with the program and demanded the SBA expedite the release of relief funding to struggling venues across the country.
“It’s been six months since Congress created the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant program to help some of the hardest hit small businesses in the nation,” said Congressman Bill Huizenga. “The Small Business Administration’s inability to properly administer the funding in a timely manner is completely unacceptable. The more time that passes due to bureaucratic inaction, the more small concert venues will close their doors for good.”
“The slow pace is becoming increasingly untenable for the small businesses in our districts. Their banks have threatened to call in the full amount of small business loans, they do not have the funds to pay their landlords full rent, and they cannot retain staff,” wrote the Members. “We are hearing from venue operators who are days away from closing their doors if these funds are not sent soon. These small businesses not only provide good jobs and contribute economically to our local communities, they contribute to the spirit and local culture as well. We must act now.”
June 16, 2021
The Honorable Isabel Guzman
US Small Business Administration
409 3rd St SW
Washington, D.C. 20416
Dear Administrator Guzman,
We write today to urge the Small Business Administration to expedite the release of funds to beneficiaries of the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant (SVOG) program and provide answers to the questions below in a timely manner.
For over a year, we have consistently heard from venue operators about the unprecedented and unsustainable economic impacts the COVID-19 pandemic had on their small businesses. This community was relieved when the SVOG program was created in the Economic Aid to Hard-Hit Small Businesses, Nonprofits, and Venues Act in December of 2020 and additional funding was added as a part of the American Rescue Plan.
However, the rollout of this program and the release of funds is of great concern to us and many of our constituents. In addition to the initial crash of the application portal on April 8th and delay of the opening to April 28th, there has been a significant delay in the processing of applicants and awarding of funds. According to the Office of Disaster Assistance, as of June 14, the SBA has only approved 411 grants out of the over 14,000 applications submitted, and nearly half of the applications have not yet reached the review stage.
The slow pace is becoming increasingly untenable for the small businesses in our districts. Their banks have threatened to call in the full amount of small business loans, they do not have the funds to pay their landlords full rent, and they cannot retain staff. We are hearing from venue operators who are days away from closing their doors if these funds are not sent soon. These small businesses not only provide good jobs and contribute economically to our local communities, they contribute to the spirit and local culture as well. We must act now.
We understand the complexity and difficulty of managing a program of this size; however, we request the disbursement of funds be expedited immediately.
In addition, we respectfully request answers to the following questions are made available to all Members and staff:
Thank you and your staff for your hard work to implement the various SBA programs in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. We know you are committed to serving our small businesses and we look forward to working together to ensure these funds are distributed and these issues are addressed efficiently.