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Congressman Peter Welch of Vermont calls for greater SBA flexibility

SOUTH BURLINGTON, Vt. — US Representative ­Peter Welch said Monday that he wants the federal government to make special loans available for the smallest Vermont businesses hit by disasters, so they can be spared some of the paperwork requirements that prevented some from getting assist­ance after Tropical Storm Irene.

Welch’s proposal would be designed for businesses with fewer than 50 employees and make them ­eligible for microloans from the Small Business Administration that can be critical when businesses are trying to ­recover from disasters such as Irene.

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The proposal grew out of meetings that Welch, a ­Democrat, had with business owners across the state.

The smallest businesses did not have the staff to complete paperwork required for Small Business Administration disaster loans.

In other cases, the records needed for the application had been ­destroyed or had been made temporarily unavailable by last ­August’s storm.

‘‘The most crucial thing I heard from small business owners is they had to get their doors open again so they could get the cash flow going, and that’s a monumental task,” he said. ­“Records had been ­destroyed, washed away. Equipment is ­ruined.’’

As an example, Welch said the Small Business Administration distributed more than 1,900 business disaster loan applications.

‘Records had been ­destroyed, washed away. Equipment is ­ruined.’

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Of those, 234 businesses submitted a completed application, and 137 loans were issued.

Welch said he hoped to meet with Karen G. Mills, ­administrator of the Small Business ­Administration.

The Small Business Administration did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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