Hagerty And Blackburn Urge Small Business Association To Properly Implement Relief Funds

Photo: Marsha Blackburn and Bill Hagerty

Photo Credit: blackburn.senate.gov & hagerty.senate.gov

Published April 21, 2021

United States Senators Bill Hagerty (R-TN) and Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) have joined a bipartisan, bicameral group of lawmakers in a letter to Small Business Administrator (SBA) Isabella Guzman urging her to ensure the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant (SVOG) emergency relief program is implemented and funding is distributed to eligible recipients as Congress intended. 

Tennessee Capitol Building in Nashville

“The Administration’s recent announcement that it is ‘aiming to reopen the portal by the end of next week’ is encouraging, and we urge the Administration to make every effort to meet this goal. As you correctly point out, ‘this funding is urgently needed now.’ With each passing day, more independent businesses are forced to shutter permanently or file for bankruptcy. Landlords and banks are no longer permitting deferrals and are pressing for immediate payment of past due accounts; businesses are receiving eviction notices; mom-and-pop businesses are being forced to sell. The Administration’s announcement is critical to these businesses as they work to meet existing debt obligations during these unprecedented times,” the Senators wrote. 

From Johnson City to Memphis, many live venues and performers and museum operators have had to temporarily close due to the global pandemic. The Save Our Stages Act, now the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant program, was passed with strong bipartisan support in December to prevent widespread closures of shuttered venues, but months later the program is still not operational. 

A copy of the letter can be found below: 

Dear Administrator Guzman,

Thank you for your work and that of the entire Small Business Administration (SBA) to ensure the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant (SVOG) emergency relief program is implemented and funding is distributed to eligible recipients as Congress intended. Immediately launching SVOG will be critical to ensuring the health of this important industry. 

The Administration’s recent announcement that it is “aiming to reopen the portal by the end of next week” is encouraging, and we urge the Administration to make every effort to meet this goal. As you correctly point out, “this funding is urgently needed now.”  With each passing day, more independent businesses are forced to shutter permanently or file for bankruptcy. Landlords and banks are no longer permitting deferrals and are pressing for immediate payment of past due accounts; businesses are receiving eviction notices; mom-and-pop businesses are being forced to sell. The Administration’s announcement is critical to these businesses as they work to meet existing debt obligations during these unprecedented times. 

We also respectfully request you continue outreach to potential applicants and finalize guidance that will inform applicants of the precise requirements for eligibility and grant amount. We continue to urge SBA to implement a technical corrections process so reviewers may seek additional information if a submission is rejected due to an obvious technical error. This is consistent with the review opportunity provided under other federal grant programs and would ensure that eligible applicants are not excluded due to an inadvertent failure to comply with a technical requirement of the application process. 

The Save Our Stages Act, now the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant program, was created to prevent widespread closures of shuttered venues. As supporters of the SVOG program, we look forward to the start of the program this week and stand ready to work with you to ensure proper and timely aid to applicants within each priority period. 

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