Tennessee Senators Urge SBA to Communicate with Shuttered Venue Operators Grant Applicants

Hagerty and Blackburn also press SBA to ensure the funds go to the intended recipients

WASHINGTON—United States Senators Bill Hagerty (R-TN) and Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) today sent a letter to Small Business Administrator Isabella Guzman urging the agency to communicate with businesses who have applied for the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant (SVOG) program, which Congress approved on an overwhelmingly bipartisan basis in December 2020.

“We were encouraged that the SBA began accepting applications for the program on April 26, 2021; however, we are discouraged that many American small businesses in need have not received any correspondence from your agency and highly recommend frequent communication with applicants regarding the status of their applications,” Hagerty and Blackburn wrote.

Hagerty and Blackburn also expressed serious concern to Guzman regarding a recent Inspector General comment that SBA’s audit plan for the SVOG program “exposes billions of dollars to potential misuse of funds because the bulk of grant funds will not be subject to a reasonable degree of scrutiny.”

“Congress has provided your agency with tools to ensure that taxpayer funding is targeted to help those entities that are most in need. One of these tools is the requirement that applicants certify that the uncertainty of current economic conditions makes the SVOG grant necessary to support the ongoing operations of the eligible person or entity […] We hope that your agency ensures that these SVOG funds are going to the intended entities, which desperately need the grants without any further delay,” Hagerty and Blackburn continued.

The full text of the letter can be found here and below:

Dear Administrator Guzman:

We continue to urge your agency and the entire Administration to mobilize all resources necessary for effective implementation of the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant (SVOG) program, which Congress approved on an overwhelmingly bipartisan basis in December 2020. 

We were encouraged that the SBA began accepting applications for the program on April 26, 2021; however, we are discouraged that many American small businesses in need have not received any correspondence from your agency and highly recommend frequent communication with applicants regarding the status of their applications. 

We were also alarmed by your agency’s Inspector General’s concerns about SBA’s control environment and tracking results for SVOG. The Inspector General warned that your agency’s audit plan for the SVOG program “exposes billions of dollars to potential misuse of funds because the bulk of grant funds will not be subject to a reasonable degree of scrutiny.”  Congress has provided your agency with tools to ensure that taxpayer funding is targeted to help those entities that are most in need.

One of these tools is the requirement that applicants certify that the uncertainty of current economic conditions makes the SVOG grant necessary to support the ongoing operations of the eligible person or entity. This program should be providing $16 billion in much needed emergency assistance for America’s live venue operators and promoters, theatrical producers, live performing arts organization operators, museum operators, zoos and aquariums, motion picture theater operators, and talent representatives. We hope that your agency ensures that these SVOG funds are going to the intended entities, which desperately need the grants without any further delay.

Thank you for your attention to this important matter.

Sincerely,

About Brad Jones

Brad is the Owner/Operator of BBB TV 12, and has been with the company since August of 1996. Brad is a 1987 graduate of Coalfield High School and a 1995 graduate of the University of Tennessee College of Communications. He won the 1995 broadcast production student of the year award. Brad worked at Shop at Home, Inc. a home shopping network that was located in Knoxville, TN from 1993 - 1995 and then at Via TV (RSTV, Inc.) from 1995 - 1996. After some freelance work in Nashville, Brad joined the BBB Communications staff in August of 1996. A short stint at WVLT TV as a news photographer was in 2001, but he continued to work at BBB TV as well. Brad is married to Nicole Jenkins Jones, a 1990 graduate of Oak Ridge High School, who works at Oak Ridge Gastroenterology and Associates in Oak Ridge. They have 3 kids, Trevor Bogard, 27, Chandler 22, and Naomi 13. On December 12, 2013 they welcomed their first grandchild, Carter Ryan Bogard. Brad is also the assistant boys basketball coach at Coalfield High School for the past 11 years. In 2013-14 the Yellow Jackets won their first district title since 1991 and just the 4th in school history.

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