Senator Frank Blas, Jr. sent a letter to U.S. Small Business Administrator Isabella Guzman requesting a waiver or exemption of the business location eligibility requirement for SBA’s Targeted Economic Injury Disaster Loan Advance program.
As offered, the program is only offered to businesses that are in a low-income community as identified in a map derived from a 2010 census study.
“There are some grave concerns with the map’s representation and how it applies to the realities of our island,” says Blas.
“I have written to Congressman Michael San Nicolas and Governor Lou Leon Guerrero about this matter and have taken the liberty to bring this concern to the SBA Administrator in hopes that we can get some help for our businesses that are affected by this requirement. The map being used to determine program eligibility neglects the fact that all businesses on Guam were and continue to be adversely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and doesn’t accurately reflect where the low and high-income communities are on Guam,” Blas said.
He went on to ask, “How can you say that hotel row and Barrigada Heights are low-income communities while Batulo Road in Dededo and the jungles of Babulao in Talofofo are high-income areas?”
In his letter, Blas wrote that along with the same challenges faced by other communities, Guam has other unique factors that he hopes can be considered for a waiver or exemption from the low-income community requirement.
Blas wrote, “Our employment rate (18%) is above the national average of 6% and scores of residents still rely on government and non-profit food distribution for their daily nourishment. We also had the unfortunate distinction of having one of the highest positivity rates in the nation for a little while, and all of this has contributed to the significant adverse injury being experienced by businesses here.
Blas further wrote, “Guam is the furthest territory from the continental United States and our economy relies heavily on tourism and business from the Asian region, primarily Japan, Korea, and the Philippines. In fact, Guam is closer to Asia (1,800 miles) than it is to CONUS (6,098 miles) and almost all of the commodities available and sold on Guam are shipped into the island.”
Blas said that he believes a case can be made for Guam based on the unique economic challenges that businesses have had to endure through the pandemic. He went on to say that his letter to the SBA Administrator is part of a continuing effort to assist businesses to get back on their feet and to ensure parity and fairness in the application of all financial aid opportunities for every business, regardless of where they are located on island.
(Sen. Frank Blas Jr. Release)