Industry champions fight to protect small business from natural disasters

Yesterday, U.S. Representatives Jim Morelle (D-NY-25), Jack Bergman (R-MI-01), Jared Golden (D-ME-02), and Pete Stauber (R-MN-08) introduced landmark legislation backed by the recreational boating industry that would give small businesses the opportunity to access much needed capital to invest in disaster resilient infrastructure. The bill – formally known as the Providing Resources for Emergency Preparedness and Resilient Enterprises (PREPARE) Act – would allow the Small Business Administration to make low-interest, fixed rate loans of up to $500,000 to small businesses to invest in their properties to protect their facilities, real estate and contents from natural disasters.

“Small, family owned recreational boating businesses are among the most susceptible to the devastation of erosion, rising water levels and many additional effects of climate change,” said Callie Hoyt, director of federal government relations for the National Marine Manufacturers Association. “Reauthorizing the Small Business Administration’s Pre-Disaster Mitigation Loan program would make these businesses and communities better prepared to weather the increasing number of natural disasters and we applaud Representatives Jim Morelle (D-NY-25), Jack Bergman (R-MI-01), Jared Golden (D-ME-02) and Pete Stauber (R-MN-08) for their leadership on this critical issue.”

“Our community knows all too well how devastating flooding can be to local businesses — many of which are already struggling with the severe financial impacts of COVID-19,” added Congressman Joe Morelle. “It’s more important now than ever that we take preventative action to prepare for future flooding and protect our small businesses from additional economic hardship. Strong mitigation efforts are the key to our resiliency, and that’s why I’m so proud to introduce this much-needed legislation to help strengthen coastal communities.”

“Small businesses, and recreational boat dealers in particular, depend on strong infrastructure to be able to make their living,” said Marine Retailers Association of the America’s government relations manager Adam Fortier-Brown. “As small businesses drive our nation’s economic recovery through and beyond Covid-19, the PREPARE ACT will give them the tools they need to invest in climate-resilient infrastructure to protect and prepare their businesses and employees from the next inevitable disaster, and prevent costly repairs that would stifle job growth.”

“This bill has wide-reaching benefits to the marina and boatyard industry,” said Association of Marina Industries legislative outreach coordinator Eric Kretsch. “Small businesses constitute a large portion of our industry, and by nature, we’re located in vulnerable areas. This program will provide another mechanism to upgrade infrastructure and increase the resilience of our industry to natural disasters.”

This program would be the only SBA program focused solely on small business disaster prevention and would complement rebuilding efforts through the government agency’s disaster loan programs. Research shows that every $1 the government spends on disaster mitigation, such as improving existing infrastructure or elevating homes and businesses, saves taxpayers an average of $6.

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Across much of the United States, the flood risk is far greater than government estimates show, new calculations suggest, exposing millions of people to a hidden threat — and one that will only grow as climate change worsens. That new calculation, which takes into account sea-level rise, rainfall and flooding along smaller creeks not mapped federally, estimates that 14.6 million properties are at risk from what experts call a 100-year flood, far more than the 8.7 million properties shown on federal government flood maps. A 100-year flood is one with a 1% chance of striking in any given year.

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