Last week U.S. Senator David Vitter, Chairman of the Senate Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee, hosted the Honorable Maria Contreras-Sweet, Administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), in South Louisiana as they toured the flood-impacted areas in Livingston, Ascension and East Baton Rouge parishes.
“Seeing the devastation first-hand makes a huge difference in making sure the SBA’s recovery assistance is more effective and useful for the families and businesses devastated by this ‘one-in-a-thousand-years’ flooding disaster,” Vitter said. "There is a lot more work that needs to be done, including getting more Business Recovery Centers up and running. I’m going to continue working with my colleagues in the state and on the federal level to ensure Louisianians have the resources needed to rebuild and Administrator Contreras-Sweet will be a great partner in our recovery efforts.”
Joining Vitter and Contreras-Sweet for several of today’s events included the Honorable Julian Castro, Secretary of the U.S. Housing and Urban Development (HUD), U.S. Senator Bill Cassidy , U.S. Rep. John Fleming , U.S. Rep. Garret Graves , Secretary of State Tom Schedler, Ascension Parish Sheriff Jeffrey Wiley, East Baton Rouge Mayor-President Kip Holden, Denham Springs Mayor Gerard Landry, Walker Mayor Rick Ramsey and Livingston Parish President Layton Ricks.
“Despite the extraordinary and tragic conditions here, the strength of the American spirit is alive and well in Louisiana," Sweet said. "SBA stands ready to help survivors across Louisiana rebuild. We will be here until the job of recovery is done.
SBA is working together with federal, state and local officials to help businesses, homeowners and renters get the help they need. SBA has opened seven Business Recovery Centers to serve as one-stop assistance sites for businesses and homeowners."
As the Small Business Chairman, Vitter successfully passed into law the RISE After Act in 2015, which makes it easier for individuals and businesses affected by a disaster to receive loans from the SBA to recover and rebuild. It also requires the SBA to identify, in advance, locations in every county or parish suitable for use as recovery centers by the SBA.
Vitter’s legislation gave the SBA authority to make additional grants to Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs) to aid businesses with disaster recovery. Earlier today, Vitter requested from Administrator Contreras-Sweet that the SBA open more Business Recovery Centers (BRCs) and to make additional funds available to businesses seeking disaster recovery-related loans.
Vitter is planning a Small Business Committee hearing to examine the federal response to the Louisiana flood disaster in early September.