Tester Pushes to Protect Jobs, Cut Red Tape for Montana Small Businesses Impacted by Drought and Wildfires

Senator to Small Business Administration: Disaster Loan Application is too Burdensome for Montana Small Businesses and Puts Jobs at Risk

(U.S. Senate) – U.S. Senator Jon Tester is pushing to protect local jobs and cut red tape for Montana small businesses that are seeking assistance due to severe drought and wildfires spreading across the state.

In a letter to Small Business Administrator Linda McMahon, Tester urged the Small Business Administration to prioritize assisting Montana small businesses that apply for Disaster Loan Assistance because of business downturns due to devastating drought and growing wildfires. Tester is directly relaying concerns from Montanans who say the demanding application process for Disaster Loan Assistance will keep too many business owners from accessing the assistance they need to survive the downturn caused by natural disasters.

“The Small Business Administration’s Disaster Loan Assistance program is a vital tool for small businesses to survive disaster related downtowns,” Tester wrote. “That’s why it is critically important for the Small Business Administration to cut red tape to ensure the program runs effectively without being overly burdensome for applicants.”

Numerous Montana businesses rely on robust seasonal economic activity related to production agriculture and outdoor recreation-two of Montana’s largest industries. Drought and wildfire disasters have major impacts on production agriculture and tourism, which is then felt by local businesses across the state.

Montana businesses can access low-interest loans through the Small Business Administration to help mitigate the losses related to these disasters. Currently in Montana, over 20 counties are under disaster designation due to drought and wildfires having consumed hundreds of thousands of acres across the state.

Tester told McMahon that the Disaster Loan Assistance application process is too burdensome and many Montana small businesses cannot afford to divert resources away from their business to fill out endless paperwork during times of such financial stress.

“In times of crisis, however, these businesses cannot afford to have their employees waste time on cumbersome application processes,” Tester added. “I am hearing some reports on the ground in Montana that it can be overly difficult to qualify for a disaster loan. I am concerned that SBA’s useful programs will fail to address the needs of disaster stricken rural communities if small businesses don’t have the necessary resources to get through an unnecessarily demanding application process.”

Tester has already secured additional resources for farmers and ranchers facing extreme drought, helped bump up staffing in eastern Montana, and called on the Federal Emergency Management Agency to help first responders who are fighting wildfires across the state.

Tester’s letter to McMahon is available HERE.