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Cochran co-sponsors interest-waiving bill

WASHINGTON — Sen. Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) is supporting legislation that would offer assistance to small businesses on the Gulf Coast by waiving interest payments on disaster-related loans issued after recent hurricanes.

Cochran is cosponsoring the Southeast Hurricanes Small Business Disaster Relief Act (S.2986), which would direct the Small Business Administration (SBA) to establish a disaster relief program for small businesses in Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas that were affected by disaster areas created by Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, Gustav and Ike.

“Many small business owners operate on a very slim margin. Their ability to stay open is made much more difficult after a natural disaster, and the current economic downturn compounds those difficulties,” Cochran said. “Waiving interest payments, as proposed in this legislation, could make it easier for some small businesses on the Gulf Coast to survive and grow.”

Under S.2986, the SBA would be directed to establish a Southeast Hurricanes Small Business Disaster Relief Program through which small businesses could have up to $15,000 waived on interest payments due on SBA disaster loans. A business could apply to have its interest payments waived for up to three years.

The legislation would give priority to small businesses with fewer than 50 employees. Priority would also be granted to firms that resumed business operations in a declared disaster area between Sept. 2005 to Oct. 2006 for Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, and between Sept. 2008 and Dec. 2010 for Hurricanes Gustav and Ike.

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