Washington, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden today announced that he is co-sponsoring legislation to reauthorize a federal program that gives small businesses the opportunity to take out low-interest loans for putting in place mitigation measures to protect their property from future disaster damage.
“With the rapidly growing climate crisis, our communities are being hit with bigger and more dangerous natural disasters,” said Wyden, ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee. “In the West, this wildfire season has brought tragedy and destruction with massive infernos leveling entire communities to ash.
“The federal government has an obligation to help our communities — especially our small businesses and the hundreds of thousands of workers they employ — mitigate the worst,” Wyden said. “Federal support for disaster preparation is especially important for states like my home state where small businesses are the backbone of the economy.”
The Providing Resources for Emergency Preparedness and Resilient Enterprises (PREPARE) Act — which builds upon similar legislation (H.R. 7552) introduced by U.S. Rep. Joseph Morelle (D-NY) — would do the following:
· Create an updated Pre-Disaster Mitigation Program for small business concerns to proactively take out a low-interest loan (up to $500,000) for the purpose of implementing mitigation measures to protect their property from future disaster related damage.
· Authorize $25 million annually (FY2021 to FY2025).
· Task the Small Business Administration (SBA) with establishing and carrying out an advertising and outreach program related to pre-disaster mitigation.
· Task SBA with issuing guidance to ensure borrowers purchase and maintain insurance coverage over the duration of the loan.
· Require SBA to conduct initial reporting and a program evaluation annually thereafter.
· Increase, from 20 to 30 percent, the limit on existing SBA Physical Business Disaster Loans a borrower may use towards post-disaster mitigation.
The entire bipartisan PREPARE Act is here.
A web version of this release is here.