February 03, 2021

During SBA Administrator Confirmation Hearing, Hirono Calls for SBA to Provide Additional Support for Underserved Businesses in Response to Pandemic

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senator Mazie K. Hirono (D-Hawaii) questioned President Biden’s nominee to be U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) Administrator, Isabel Guzman, during a U.S. Senate Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee hearing today. 

“When I had a chance to talk with you, you made a commitment to make sure that underserved small businesses in particular would have adequate access—maybe more access at this point—to the $284 billion for PPP that Congress recently approved. Do you have any specific kinds of things you would do to make sure that minority businesses and businesses with fewer than ten employees, for example, would have access to PPP?” Senator Hirono asked.

Ms. Guzman responded that it is the Biden administration’s priority to make sure underserved businesses can access resources, and that the SBA can better use community-based resources including resource partners and field offices to provide communication, training, and awareness so more small businesses can equitably access the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP).

The Senator also noted that many small businesses struggled with the paperwork and other requirements for PPP, and suggested that the SBA make the information as clear and understandable as possible. She also asked that Ms. Guzman work to address the needs of Native-owned businesses—like Native Hawaiian and Alaska Native businesses—through outreach and support for the 8(a) program, which provides important economic opportunities for historically disadvantaged communities. Ms. Guzman committed to making sure that SBA programs including the 8(a) program are fully utilized and that there is extensive outreach.

Senator Hirono also outlined Senate Republican efforts to unfairly prevent Planned Parenthood local chapters from receiving PPP loans for ideological reasons. She asked Ms. Guzman to apply SBA’s rules in a “fair, neutral, and consistent” manner. Ms. Guzman committed that if she is confirmed, she would work to make sure the program is implemented in accordance with the rules and regulations.

Last week, Senator Hirono and Ms. Guzman met to discuss a variety of priorities for Hawaii and the nation, including the need to make sure that SBA’s coronavirus relief program are reaching local businesses—especially underserved businesses like women- and minority-owned businesses, and businesses with ten or fewer employees.

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