Kennedy backs PREPARE Act to help small businesses mitigate disaster loss

WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) joined Sens. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Angus King (I-Maine) in introducing their Providing Resources for Emergency Preparedness and Resilient Enterprises (PREPARE) Act.

The bill 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 to proactively implement mitigation measures to protect their property from future disaster-related damage. Additional cosponsors include Sens. Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine).

“No one knows better than a Louisianian how to prepare for natural disasters, and this bill will make it easier for our small businesses to prevent loss. Too often, hardworking Americans are forced to weather storms first and federal bureaucracy second. I’m thankful to work with Sen. Rubio and colleagues to pass the PREPARE Act before another category four hurricane batters our state,” said Kennedy.

“The PREPARE Act would allow small businesses the opportunity to invest in mitigation before a disaster strikes. 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,” said Rubio.

The 2020 Atlantic Hurricane season has been so active that the National Hurricane Center has already exhausted the list of storm names. According to Federal Emergency Management Agency statistics, approximately 50 percent of small businesses close indefinitely following a disaster, and every $1 spent on mitigation saves taxpayers $6.

The PREPARE Act:

· Creates an updated Pre-Disaster Mitigation Program for small businesses to proactively take out a low-interest loan (up to $500,000) in order to implement 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.