New SBA chief says focus is on COVID-19 impact

Washington Post/Pool

The new head of the Small Business Administration (SBA) says she plans to prioritize addressing the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on small businesses as she takes on her role in the Biden administration.

In an interview published on Monday, Isabel Guzman told The Associated Press that her initial focus will be on the measures in the American Rescue Plan aimed to assist small businesses. 

“We’ll be looking at our overall programs to see a path forward for small businesses,” she said during the Friday interview.

Guzman, who previously served as deputy chief of staff at SBA under former President Obama, was sworn into her position last week.

She enters the position as the function of the SBA has altered during the coronavirus crisis, as the U.S. has seen 400,000 businesses shut down in the year since the pandemic started with “many more” at risk, Guzman told the AP.

The agency has especially concentrated on the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), which has provided almost 8 million loans worth more than $700 billion so far.

The $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package signed by President Biden last week offers direct assistance to small businesses through more funding for the PPP program and $28 billion in grants for restaurants affected by coronavirus restrictions.

But the American Rescue Plan also offers indirect relief, with $10 billion to help states lend to companies and $100 million for a Community Navigator program that intends to provide advice to small business owners and take in feedback from these owners.

Guzman told the AP that the additional COVID-19 vaccinations being administered and the $1,400 stimulus checks included in the package will help repair the overall economy. 

Ahead of the COVID-19 pandemic, the SBA primarily focused on programs that lend money to people looking to start and expand their businesses. Guzman noted that these programs may be adjusted.

Tags American Rescue Plan Coronavirus COVID-19 economy Isabel Guzman Joe Biden Paycheck Protection Program relief bill SBA Small Business Administration small businesses

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