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Congresswoman Bice Joins 200 other House Colleagues in Effort to Expedite Funds to SVOG Beneficiaries

June 16, 2021

Washington, D.C. - Today, Congresswoman Stephanie Bice (R-OK) joined U.S. Representatives Angie Craig (D-MN), Roger Williams (R-TX), Chrissy Houlahan (D-PA), Dean Phillips (D-MN) and 200 of their House colleagues in a bipartisan letter to demand Isabel Guzman of the Small Business Administration take immediate action to improve the technical challenges and persistent delays of the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant program rollout.

The rollout of the SVOG program has been plagued by technical challenges and persistent delays. Since launching the program in April, the SBA has approved roughly 400 grants as of June 14 – despite receiving more than 14,000 applications. In Oklahoma, only 3 businesses that applied for the SVOG program had received grants as of June 14. In their letter, Bice and her colleagues requested a detailed explanation of ongoing issues with the program and demanded the SBA expedite the release of relief funding to struggling venues across the country. 

“Oklahoma’s venues have been waiting more than 6 months for the Shuttered Venue Operator Grant program to get off the ground and they can’t afford to wait any longer,” said Rep. Bice. “My constituents are ready to attend concerts or go to the movies in person, but many of these venues have exhausted their funds and can’t join in our state’s economic recovery. I’m very disappointed in the lack of response from the SBA.”

“The slow pace is becoming increasingly untenable for the small businesses in our districts. Their banks have threatened to call in the full amount of small business loans, they do not have the funds to pay their landlords full rent, and they cannot retain staff,” wrote the Members. “We are hearing from venue operators who are days away from closing their doors if these funds are not sent soon. These small businesses not only provide good jobs and contribute economically to our local communities, they contribute to the spirit and local culture as well. We must act now.”

“Our members are still at grave risk of going under while $16 billion waits for them,” said National Independent Venue Association Executive Director Rev. Moose. "Emergency relief requires urgency. It has been 6 months since the law passed and 45 days since our members submitted applications, so we're truly grateful that our Congressional champions are pressing the SBA for action now to save our stages. Our small businesses, employees, and communities depend in it.”

The program, which is administered by the SBA’s Office of Disaster Assistance, was originally created as part of the Economic Aid to Hard-Hit Small Businesses, Nonprofits, and Venues Act last December. The program includes over $16 billion in grants to shuttered venues, and also received additional funding from the American Rescue Plan Act earlier this year. Eligible applicants may qualify for grants equal to 45% of their gross earned revenue, with the maximum amount available for a single grant award of $10 million.

On April 8th, the program’s portal crashed, halting applications for nearly three weeks. Even after relaunching the application portal, there have been significant delays in the processing of applicants and the awarding of funds.

You can find the full text of the letter here.