Congressman Brian Higgins is urging the U.S. Small Business Administration to answer for “unreasonable delays” in the release of funds for the Shuttered Venue Grant Operators (SVOG) program and work quickly to ensure venues receive their COVID-19 relief funding.
In a letter to SBA Administrator Isabel Guzman, Higgins and colleagues wrote, “The slow pace is becoming increasingly untenable for the small businesses in our districts. Their banks have threatened to call in the full amount of small business loans, they do not have the funds to pay their landlords full rent, and they cannot retain staff. We are hearing from venue operators who are days away from closing their doors if these funds are not sent soon. These small businesses not only provide good jobs and contribute economically to our local communities, they contribute to the spirit and local culture as well. We must act now.”
The SVOG program was initially established by Congress in 2020 to deliver over $16 billion in federal funding to help performance venues, many which were forced to close due to the impact of public health restrictions to prevent the spread of coronavirus. While the program was initially set to open applications on April 8, the opening was delayed until April 28.
Higgins’ camp said, “As of June 21, the SBA has only approved 1,445 grants out of the over 14,000 applications submitted. In addition to urging the SBA to work faster to deliver the funding to venues, the letter also asks the SBA to answer what is causing the delays, and what Congress could do to assist in this situation.”