WASHINGTON—U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA) helped introduce a bipartisan bill to assist Iowa’s small businesses with accessing resources to protect their property from potential natural disasters. Along with fellow members of the U.S. Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, led by Chairman Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Senator Angus King (I-ME), Ernst put forward the Providing Resources for Emergency Preparedness and Resilient Enterprises (PREPARE) Act, which would reauthorize the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Pre-Disaster Mitigation Pilot Program to give small businesses the opportunity to take out low-interest loans for the purpose of proactively implementing mitigation measures to protect their property from future disaster related damage.  
 
“Between the derecho and recent flooding, natural disasters have caused significant challenges and economic harm to Iowa’s small businesses in recent years,” said Senator Ernst. “This bipartisan effort will help our small business owners access resources to protect their property from potential disasters, and help them avoid unforeseen expenses in the future,” 
 
“The PREPARE Act would allow small businesses the opportunity to invest in mitigation before a disaster strikes,” said Chairman Marco Rubio. “Investing in disaster mitigation on the front end saves business’, as well as taxpayers’, dollars, while reducing potential risks to property. I am proud to introduce this bipartisan, bicameral legislation that would improve the SBA’s previous program and allow businesses to be more prepared and more resilient in the future.” 
 
“If we didn’t already know before, the coronavirus pandemic further proves that it’s much better to prepare for a potentially catastrophic disaster rather than having to react to one after it’s happened,” said Senator King. “That’s why Senator Rubio and I are introducing this bill to help our small businesses and local governments strengthen their physical infrastructure in case of a flood – an issue particularly important to coastal small businesses in Maine given their proximity to the ocean. Now more than ever, small business owners around the nation need peace-of-mind, and this bill will support that by providing funding to prepare for natural disasters to minimize their impact rather than only paying after the fact.”
 
The PREPARE Act
  • Creates an updated Pre-Disaster Mitigation Program for small business concerns to proactively take out a low-interest loan (up to $500,000) for the purpose of implementing mitigation measures to protect their property from future disaster related damage.
  • Authorizes $25 million annually (FY2021 to FY2025).
  • Tasks SBA with establishing and carrying out an advertising and outreach program related to pre-disaster mitigation.
  • Tasks SBA with issuing guidance to ensure borrowers purchase and maintain insurance coverage over the duration of the loan.
  • Requires SBA to conduct initial reporting and a program evaluation annually thereafter.
  • Increases, from 20 to 30 percent, the limit on existing SBA Physical Business Disaster Loans a borrower may use towards post-disaster mitigation.
 
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