Drought Aid Package Includes Low Lake Levels

April 7, 2003
| By Katy Rent |
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The legislation, in general, will allow small businesses that depend on waterways for business, eligibility for emergency financial assistance.

The measure seeks equal treatment by the Small Business Administration (SBA) for all small businesses suffering losses as a result of drought. Currently, farm-related small businesses hurt by drought are eligible for SBA disaster loans but other small businesses also hurt by drought are not.

The Senate bill requires that all small businesses in declared disaster areas be treated equally.

“This is a simple matter of fairness,” said Levin.

“These small businesses have suffered from alarmingly low water levels in the Great Lakes because of drought. They need and deserve low-interest disaster loans to help them to stay in business.”

Levin’s amendment included small businesses that have suffered economic injury as a result of low water levels in the Great Lakes in the definition of small businesses eligible for SBA’s economic injury disaster loans.

For example, SBA low interest disaster loans could help marina owners finance the expensive and unexpected costs of dredging needed to return draft in channels to pre-low water levels. SBA loans would allow the marina operator to spread the cost of dredging over the expected life of the benefit.

“Providing relief to these small businesses in their efforts to keep water access open also provides effective relief to the larger recreational boating industry,” Levin said.

“As long as boaters have access to the lakes, they will continue to patronize related small businesses such as bait and tackle shops.”

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