Hoping to get some much needed financial assistance, Representative Josh Harder on March 14 sent a letter to Small Business Administrator (SBA) Isabel Guzman calling out the agency for failing to track demographic data for the recipients of the $357 billion COVID relief dollars dispersed by the SBA. By failing to track this data, Harder’s letter states, the program neglected underserved business owners across the Central Valley.
Minority small business owners faced a significantly high closure rate at the onset of the pandemic with 41 percent of Black-owned businesses, 32 percent of Latino- owned businesses and 20 percent of Asian-owned businesses forced to close their doors as a result of COVID-19. Recent reports indicate that minority small business owners have had difficulty accessing COVID relief dollars since the beginning of the pandemic.
“Our Valley has been left behind for generations, and it’s beyond frustrating to see that pattern continue when it comes to our small businesses getting this critical batch of funding,” said Rep. Harder. “Today, I’m calling on the Small Business Administration to shape up and do what’s necessary to support the underserved businesses in our community.”
This work is a continuation of Harder’s commitment to ensuring federal COVID-19 funds are used efficiently and effectively. Last June, Harder called out the administration for processing just 3 percent of applications from bars, movie theaters, museums and concert halls applying for federal aid.
“Traditional SBA lending programs such as the 7(a) and the 504 program have clear demographic data of its borrowers. Why weren’t these same practices applied to the COVID EIDL?” Harder questioned in his letter. “The federal government spent billions of dollars on these programs, yet without data, there is no way to ensure that our most vulnerable populations – those we intended to serve with these dollars – are not left behind. Collecting demographic data will enable the SBA to make necessary changes to antiquated systems that continue to fail disadvantaged businesses.”