Washington, D.C.— Today, the House Small Business Committee Subcommittee on Oversight, Investigations, and Regulations, led by Chairman Dean Phillips (D-MN), held a hearing focused on assessing the implementation and effectiveness of the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) pandemic related grant programs. The hearing gathered small business owners and stakeholders to testify on their experience obtaining relief and their recommendations for improving the programs.
“Recognizing the need for alternative relief options, Congress and this Committee have worked to provide direct economic relief to small firms that can’t afford to weigh down their balance sheets with additional debt,” said Chairman Phillips. “I hope that by taking a closer look at these programs, we can gain a better understanding of the challenges that federal grant programs face, as well as the important relief that the programs are providing to struggling small business owners across the country.”
Since the COVID crisis began devastating small businesses, Congress has worked to provide small firms that couldn’t afford to take on more debt with direct economic relief through grants. The hearing focused on two SBA grant programs implemented in 2021 to reach the most impacted sectors of the economy, the Shuttered Venue Operator Grant (SVOG) program and the Restaurant Revitalization Fund (RRF). Over the course of the year these programs will deliver nearly $50 billion to struggling small businesses across the country.
During the hearing, small business owners testified on the impact these initiatives had on their business and changes Congress can make to help grant programs better meet the needs of entrepreneurs.
“The RRF portal, application process, funding, and full experience worked very well for me. I applied on the first day and got word about my acceptance a couple of weeks later,” said Cheetie Kumar, Chef and Owner of Garland in Raleigh, NC. “Shortly after that my grant was funded. I was lucky, most of my financials were straightforward and the guidance was spot on for me. I know others have not been as lucky, but I am also happy to report that the SBA has been working hard to make sure everyone is treated fairly and equitably in this process.
“I have every confidence that the SVOG program will help thousands of businesses and organizations keep their doors open, restoring jobs and revitalizing communities. This is a good statute. The legislation was carefully crafted to reach the entities most in need,” said Esther Baruh, Director of Government Relations at the National Association of Theatre Owners. “As the program stands today, we believe that the number of grants and the funding amount requested track almost exactly with the number of applications and requests for funding that we expected.”
“All of these programs: unemployment insurance, PPP, EIDL, and RRF have been critical. Since the pandemic began, I have not missed a rent payment, loan payment, payroll or any other obligation,” said Chris Montana, Owner and Chief Executive Officer of Du Nord Craft Spirits in Minneapolis, MN. “That means that I have not been a drain on other businesses that are also struggling to survive. My ability to meet my obligations and prepare for future challenges is a direct result of these programs.”