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House Dems Urge SBA to Translate Resources into 10 Most Common Languages

April 9, 2020
Press Release

WASHINGTON, DC — Today, Rep. Judy Chu (CA-27), Chair of the House Small Business Subcommittee on Oversight, led a letter with Committee Chairwoman Nydia Velazquez (NY-7) to the Small Business Administration (SBA) urging them to translate resources and services for small businesses into the 10 most commonly spoken languages other than English, including Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Tagalog, and Vietnamese. The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act authorized $25 million for the SBA to provide in-language services to be made available immediately. But the SBA has not done so yet, jeopardizing the ability of millions to access benefits like the Payroll Protection Program (PPP).

According to the letter, “The SBA and the Treasury Department have struggled to prepare lenders and borrowers for the of the implementation of Paycheck Protection Program. Given the release of the interim final rule, which states the Paycheck Protection Program is a “first-come, first-serve program” and the recent reports that lenders anticipate the program expending its lending authority,[1] there is a sense of urgency emerging amongst small business owners that if SBA cannot quickly develop services and materials in the languages required by the CARES Act, thousands of business owners that conduct business in foreign languages, or have limited English proficiency, will be left behind. These small businesses must be provided with equal access to the promised government assistance meant to help them survive the COVID-19 outbreak and associated economic hardships.”

The letter continues, “We strongly urge you to expedite the implementation of the in-language services and resources and request a response detailing how SBA plans to utilize the $25 million appropriated through the CARES Act to meet the needs of LEP business owners.” An answer to this letter from the SBA has been requested by no later than April 13, 2020.

The letter is signed by 74 Members of Congress. It is available online here and below.

April 8, 2020

The Honorable Jovita Carranza
Administrator
United States Small Business Administration
409 3rd Street, SW
Washington, DC 20416

Dear Administrator Carranza:

We write to urge the Small Business Administration (SBA) to expedite the implementation of Section 1111 of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. This section authorizes $25 million for SBA to provide resources and services in the 10 most commonly spoken languages, other than English, including Mandarin, Cantonese, Japanese, and Korean.

SBA currently offers a Spanish-language website, but has not ensured adequate in-language services for the estimated 26.5 million Limited English Proficiency (LEP) individuals living in the United States, including the nearly 11.4 million who speak languages other than Spanish. These in-language resources are vital to ensure LEP individuals have access to SBA loans and other COVID-19 relief programs and must be made available immediately.

We would like to reiterate, as stated in our March 13, 2020 letter, Asian Americans own approximately two million businesses in the United States that contribute over $700 billion in annual revenue and employ nearly 4.5 million workers. Of these firms, more than 173,000 conduct business in languages other than English, including Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Tagalog, and Vietnamese. These businesses support a vibrant immigrant community and represent the very best of the American Dream, and it is vital that they have information about the SBA programs.

The SBA and the Treasury Department have struggled to prepare lenders and borrowers for the of the implementation of Paycheck Protection Program. Given the release of the interim final rule, which states the Paycheck Protection Program is a “first-come, first-serve program” and the recent reports that lenders anticipate the program expending its lending authority, there is a sense of urgency emerging amongst small business owners that if SBA cannot quickly develop services and materials in the languages required by the CARES Act, thousands of business owners that conduct business in foreign languages, or have limited English proficiency, will be left behind. These small businesses must be provided with equal access to the promised government assistance meant to help them survive the COVID-19 outbreak and associated economic hardships.

We strongly urge you to expedite the implementation of the in-language services and resources and request a response detailing how SBA plans to utilize the $25 million appropriated through the CARES Act to meet the needs of LEP business owners. The Committee requests that the SBA respond to this letter no later than April 13, 2020.

Sincerely,