Tester Fights to Cut Red Tape, Deliver Help to Montana's Small Businesses Impacted by Wildfires

Senator Pushes SBA to Increase Access and Efficiency to Aid Montanans

(U.S. Senate) – U.S. Senator Jon Tester is fighting to support Northwest Montana’s small businesses and streamline access to critical resources as the region combats a devastating fire season.

Excessive bureaucracy and a lack of outreach from the Small Business Administration (SBA) have made it unnecessarily burdensome for small businesses to access the aid available to them in years past.

Tester pushed SBA Administrator Linda McMahon to eliminate red tape and increase awareness of programs designed to help small businesses overcome natural disasters.

“Small businesses are the heartbeat of rural Montana’s economy,” Tester wrote. “These businesses provide good paying jobs and they serve customers in an efficient manner. In times of crisis, these businesses cannot waste their time wrestling with overly bureaucratic and costly application processes.”

Raging wildfires represent a significant challenge for northwest Montana’s small businesses who drive the state’s growing outdoor economy. As thousands of acres have burned across Northwest Montana in recent weeks, many due to the Howe Ridge Fire in Glacier National Park, the area’s small businesses have been forced to grapple with a dent in their bottom lines that threatens their livelihood.

Small businesses in the retail and hospitality sectors, which rely heavily on visitors to Glacier National Park and other northwest Montana landmarks, are bearing the brunt of the fires’ impact.

The SBA’s Disaster Loan Assistance Program is a crucial resource for small businesses enduring significant losses due to natural disasters. Tester noted to McMahon that the SBA’s programs have placed undue burden on small businesses in the past and advocated for a faster and more efficient process.

“During last year’s fire season, I heard from small businesses that the SBA’s programs were overly difficult to qualify for and were failing to address the needs of disaster stricken areas in Montana,” Tester added. “That is why I am encouraging you to get a head start this year to ensure that this does not happen again as fires continue to burn in Montana.”

Tester co-sponsored the bipartisan Wildfire Disaster Funding Act that was signed into law in March and provides a funding fix that enabled the Forest Service to fight wildfires as it does other natural disasters.

Montana’s growing outdoor economy generates over $7 billion and sustains 70,000 jobs every year.

Tester’s letter to McMahon is available HERE.