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Isabel Casillas Guzmán gives speech at Charleston.
The administration continues to publicize its initiatives. Photo: @SBAIsabel.

SBA implements law that improves the ability of rural communities to declare disasters

The measure was signed by President Biden in December of last year.

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The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) recently announced that the Rural Communities Disaster Assistance Act, introduced by Senators James Risch (R-ID) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), began to be implemented.

According to the administration, these communities often face more severe impacts from natural disasters due to limited access to resources and infrastructure, limiting their ability to recover and avoid lasting economic hardship.

This law, signed by President Joe Biden on December 20, 2022, authorizes SBA to eliminate onerous requirements for declaring disasters in rural communities.

Isabel Casillas Guzmán, SBA administrator, said in a press release:

Small businesses are especially vital in our nation's rural communities, and we must have effective tools to rapidly help them and the neighborhoods they serve recover when disaster strikes.

Federal Aid

Prior to the implementation of this new law, the SBA could make an agency declaration based on damage to at least 25 eligible homes, businesses, or other institutions.

With the new legal framework, a declaration can now be made with only one damaged property in a rural area when the county has received a major disaster declaration from the president of Public Assistance.

After the signing of this legislation, the SBA moved quickly to ensure all the key elements were in place for the start of the 2023 hurricane season. Effective today, we are ready to further assist rural communities in the aftermath of disasters,” pointed out Francisco Sánchez, Jr., associate administrator at the SBA Office of Disaster Recovery and Resilience.

In this way, the law authorizes SBA to simplify the process for either a governor or a chief executive officer of a tribal government to request an agency disaster declaration in counties with rural communities that have sustained significant damage.

With this information, the SBA can provide disaster assistance, including low-interest loans for individual renters and homeowners, as well as for-profit and non-profit businesses.

With a request from a governor or chief executive of a tribal government, SBA may issue a declaration that will allow SBA to activate all of its disaster loans and relief programs to disaster survivors,” added Sánchez Jr. 

Help Against Climate Change

Under the Biden administration, SBA has placed increased emphasis on helping small businesses, homeowners, renters, private nonprofit organizations, and communities to prepare for, build resilience, and recover from the tremendous physical and climate change finance.

Since January 2021, the SBA has supported federal response efforts and has approved more than $5 billion in disaster loans alone.

With SBA's implementation of the Rural Communities Act signed by President Biden, we have cut red tape and simplified the process for a SBA disaster declaration, which allows us to more quickly provide affordable disaster loans and assistance to rural entrepreneurs, homeowners, renters and nonprofits so they can rebuild and thrive once more,” underscored Casillas Guzmán. 

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