Financing

Chris Christie Calls the SBA's Sandy Response a 'Disaster'


Gov. Chris Christie holds a news conference on May 22 in Belmar, New Jersey

Photograph by Dennis Van Tine/Corbis

Gov. Chris Christie holds a news conference on May 22 in Belmar, New Jersey

Earlier this month, a federal task force on Hurricane Sandy reported that the Small Business Administration played an “integral role” in recovery efforts. New Jersey’s Republican Governor Chris Christie, whose state suffered an estimated $37 billion in damages from the storm, isn’t buying it.

“Basically, the Small Business Administration is a disaster,” Christie said yesterday during a speech in Sea Bright, N.J., according to the Star-Ledger:

“We should send FEMA to the Small Business Administration to clean up after the disaster that is the Small Business Administration and what they did to small business people in this state.

“The good news is the Small Business Administration has left New Jersey, and we are stationing troopers on every border to make sure they do not come back,” he added.

Christie, often mentioned as a potential GOP presidential candidate in 2016, griped that the SBA’s disaster loan program—which makes low-interest loans to small businesses and homeowners affected by natural catastrophes—made it too complicated to apply for relief, according to the Star-Ledger.

That’s not a new complaint. While the federal Hurricane Sandy Rebuilding Task Force applauded the SBA’s response to last year’s storm, the task force said the disaster loan program was affected by “a perception of excessive ‘red tape,’ leading to fewer applications submitted.” The task force also said the SBA should address delays in the application process and rigorous application requirements when responding to future catastrophes.

The SBA has approved more than 12,000 loans totaling more than $820 million to New Jersey residents and business owners affected by Hurricane Sandy, according to SBA spokeswoman Emily Cain.

“We remain committed to helping those individuals and communities affected by Hurricane Sandy rebuild stronger and to providing support for long-term recovery,” she said in an e-mail.

Clark is a reporter for Bloomberg Businessweek covering small business and entrepreneurship.

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