SBA Administrator Working On Quicker Loan Approvals - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

SBA Administrator Working On Quicker Loan Approvals

Blow Fly Inn's pots, pans, and most of its secret recipes got flipped right off the grill when Katrina wiped out the Gulfport restaurant on Bernard Bayou.

"I was worried for a good month after the storm," owner Scott Weinberg said. "It was a trying time."

Then, Weinberg said two things happened. First, he found a temporary place to reopen the Blow Fly. And second, the Small Business Administration approved the restaurant's $150,000 emergency loan application.

"It's very important. It's going to help me tide over until I can get built back in the old location." he said.

Weinberg thinks Blow Fly could be rebuilt by next summer. He told his rebuilding story Monday morning to SBA's new boss Steve Preston.

"The reason for this trip is to listen," Preston said. "I came down here because I wanted to hear how it's working."

Preston met with loan recipients and elected leaders. He learned what his agency should do to help other hurricane victims.

"We're just working very hard to make sure we're there with the funding as it becomes available," the SBA administrator said.

Preston admitted that SBA wasn't very efficient in the first few months after the hurricane.  Consequently, he said property owners like Scott Weinberg suffered. So after he took over the agency in July, Preston tried to streamline the SBA loan application process. Partly because of his actions, he says more than a billion dollars in SBA loans have gone out to Mississippi hurricane victims.

"Things have improved dramatically," he said. "We've more than doubled our disbursement volume. We've dramatically reduced our backlogs."

In Scott Weinberg's case, SBA is one of his heroes of the hurricane.

"Or at least a white knight," Weinberg laughed. "They help out. They do. They help out. So it's a good program. It helps ease the burden of having to go to a bank and actually borrow money. I mean it's an important program."

By Brad Kessie

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