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WASHINGTON – The SBA wants to hear ideas from credit unions and the private sector on ways the agency can improve its disaster assistance program. “Where there are ideas to improve the federal government’s response to such unprecedented natural disasters as the 2005 hurricanes along the Gulf Coast, it is our obligation to hear them,” said SBA Administrator Hector Barreto. In order to prepare for future disasters and to ensure that the disaster program is operating at its highest potential, SBA said it is seeking ideas and options for complementing the agency’s existing resources. Comments must be received by 5:00 pm EST May 2. Barreto said while the SBA has “done a lot to expedite our response in these areas, and over the last six months we have approved more disaster loan dollars in a shorter time,” (it) “doesn’t mean there isn’t a better way.” SBA had called on CUNA and others to help expedite disaster loans through a number of programs including its GO Loan program, which is similar to the agency’s Preferred Lender Program. Over the past six months, the SBA has processed more than $6.2 billion in disaster recovery loans from hurricane survivors in Louisiana, Mississippi, Texas, Florida and Alabama.

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