Congressman Ted Poe applauds the announcement by the Small Business Administration to establish the Gulf Opportunity Loan Program aimed at giving small companies expedited loans to help recover and rebuild Gulf Coast communities devastated by hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Under the GO Loan Program, SBA will guarantee loans up to $150,000 for small businesses that are located in or moving to areas that have been declared major disaster zones as a result of the hurricanes.

GO Loans will be available immediately through Sept. 30, 2006. They are available to small businesses in the counties and parishes of Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and western Florida that are included in the Presidential disaster declarations for Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, and the contiguous counties and parishes. The loans will be modeled on SBAExpress loans, which are made by commercial lenders and carry an SBA guarantee. Under the GO Loan program, the SBA will guarantee the loans at 85 percent. Lenders will generally use their own paperwork and be responsible for evaluating the creditworthiness of applicants. The decision on whether to apply an SBA guaranty to the loans will be made on an expedited basis, with an anticipated turnaround by the SBA of 24 hours or less.

Congressman Poe recently met with SBA Administrator, Hector Barreto, and addressed the concerns and needs of business owners in Jefferson County. Congressman Poe stressed the need for immediate assistance to get the economy back on its feet in the wake of Hurricane Rita. Getting people back in business and back to work is a number one concern in Jefferson County, said Poe. This is an emergency situation and should be treated as one, with as little bureaucracy getting in the way as possible.

Barreto has traveled to the Gulf Coast region and is aware of the need to offer immediate assistance to those affected by both Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. "Through my visits with small business owners in the Gulf Coast, it has become clear that the unprecedented scope and magnitude of these twin disasters requires a more creative response beyond our traditional disaster loan program," Barreto said in a prepared statement. "We are going to get financing to small businesses as quickly as we can so that they can continue with the urgent reconstruction of their local economies."

For complete information on the Gulf Opportunity Pilot Loan Program and other opportunities available, please visit the SBA website, www.sba.gov.

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