The following is a news release from the Office of Sen. Frank Blas, Jr.:
Senator Frank F. Blas, Jr. sent a letter to Governor Lou Leon Guerrero Wednesday asking for her assistance in dealing with the eligibility requirement for the Small Business Administration’s Targeted Economic Injury Disaster Loan Advance program that is concerning many Guam businesses. While the program was implemented to provide businesses with financial assistance, eligibility is dependent on where a business is located in a map generated with 2010 census data. The map supposedly shows where high and low-income communities exist on Guam, and only those businesses within the low-income community areas are eligible for the loan advance assistance.
In his letter, Blas wrote that while all businesses were eligible for the loan advance when it first rolled out in April 2020, the second iteration of the program now comes with a location requirement that deems many businesses ineligible. “I’ve spoken to shop and store owners who were waiting for the opportunity to apply again for the program, only to be disheartened that the new requirement makes them ineligible. I don’t know of any business that wasn’t adversely affected during this pandemic, and to determine that a business’ eligibility is based on data that makes no sense or has no relevance to the realities of today is simply ridiculous,” says Blas.
Blas asked the Governor to use her influence as the island’s chief executive in writing to SBA Administrator Isabella Guzman to ask for a waiver or exemption from the eligibility criteria for Guam businesses. Blas further wrote that he believes a case can be made based on Guam’s geographic location and economic challenge due to our reliance on activity in Asia. “Businesses along the streets of Florida and California don’t rely on the economic activity in Asia as much as businesses in Guam do, so to think that there is parity in the congressional thought that what’s fair in the continental United States is also fair in Guam is being ignorant to the uniqueness and challenges of our island,” Blas states.
In his letter, Blas suggested that should the request to the SBA Administrator be rejected or deemed as something that can’t be approved, that the Governor consider a local program for those affected businesses utilizing the federal funds she has received to aid in the response and recovery from the pandemic. Blas ends his letter by writing, “Whatever the response or course of action, I stand ready to assist you in helping our struggling businesses get back on their feet.”