OOIDA urges Congress to revamp SBA lending programs

| 10/23/2009

For nearly four months, many small-business owners, including truckers, have been trying to get an America’s Recovery Capital – or ARC loan – through the U.S. Small Business Administration to keep their businesses afloat during these tough economic times.

Few have reported that they have succeeded in securing one of these ARC loans or another type of loan through the SBA. Those who have applied say their lenders cite minimal or no profit for the loads of paperwork that are required for these loans.

However, one lawmaker, U.S. Rep. Kurt Schrader, D-OR, introduced a bill – HR3854 – aimed at improving the flow of capital to small businesses. 

On Wednesday, Oct. 21, the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association sent a letter of support for HR3854 to the House Small Business Committee. The committee’s chair, Rep. Nydia Velázquez, D-NY, is also a co-sponsor of the bill.

In the letter, OOIDA President and CEO Jim Johnston wrote that this legislation is needed because it would provide small-business truckers with low-interest loans through the Small Business Administration. These loans are desperately needed for truckers to “weather the economic downturn that has forced thousands of truckers to park their rigs.”

“Small-business trucking professionals are being devastated by the economic downturn; the dramatic spikes in the price of diesel fuel during the past few years and the historic drops in available freight to haul,” Johnston wrote.

The bill would require the SBA to develop a “single-page application for these loans and reduced documentation requirements.” The bill also would increase the maximum lending amount for ARC loans from $35,000 to $50,000, and would make the Community Express pilot program permanent. Currently, many small SBA-backed lenders who specialize in these Community Express loans are capped by how many loans they can approve because it is a pilot program.

Johnston wrote that several OOIDA members have had to wait months to “hear updates on the status of their applications and few have ultimately benefited” from the SBA loan programs.

“We hope that the passage of this legislation will remedy those problems,” he stated. “Due to their significance in the national supply chain and their stabilizing influence on freight rates, small-business trucking professionals are an essential piece to the economic recovery puzzle.”

– By Clarissa Kell-Holland, staff writer