|Flooded Businesses Give State Legislators a Wish List (Cedar Rapids Gazette, September 6, 2008)|
September 6, 2008
Flooded businesses give state legislators a wish list
CEDAR RAPIDS — Flooded and frustrated small businesses in
The Cedar Rapids Small Business Recovery group told a half-dozen lawmakers at a meeting Friday that a special legislative session to deal with flood relief issues is long overdue.
"Every day a special session is not called sends a message that state government does not care," said Gary Ficken, president of Bimm Ridder Sportswear, a business that was flooded at
Many of the group's members are frustrated because they are running out of money to rebuild and either can't afford or qualify for Small Business Administration disaster loans.
Thirteen recommendations were presented during an hourlong meeting in a gutted building at A-1 Rental Equipment, at
The group is asking for the diversion of $70 million worth of state funds originally slated for a new state office building in
Despite the request to set up a zero-percent loan program, the group's emphasis was not on more loans.
"To most small businesses, any kind of loan other than a forgivable loan is of no value," said A-1 Rental's Doug Schumacher. He said higher debt payments would simply force many businesses into bankruptcy at a later date when they could not longer repay the obligations.
Lawmakers at the meeting indicated they would try to help, although they weren't making any promises.
State Rep. Tyler Olson, D-Cedar Rapids, said the first step needed is a bipartisan agreement on a concrete list of issues that are financially responsible to address in a legislative session, and an agreement limiting debate during the session to those issues.
State Rep. Swati Dandekar, D-Marion, indicated the immediate needs of flood victims only would be best addressed in a special session.
"The special session is not going to address the global problems," Dandekar said, adding that "We'll worry about April 1 forward in January."
State Sen. Wally Horn, D-Cedar Rapids, and State Sen. Rob Hogg, D-Cedar Rapids, also spoke at the meeting.
Hogg said there is reluctance in
The meeting was held as Iowa Gov. Chet Culver was announcing four steps to deliver more disaster relief aid to Iowans. One step is holding back $73 million in state appropriations this fiscal year for disaster relief.
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