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WASHINGTON – There’s no disputing the Small Business Administration’s disaster loan process came under heavy fire after last year’s hurricanes, but the agency readily admits that there is room for improvement.

So in March, SBA put out a request for information to credit unions, banks and others in the private sector on ways to support the delivery of the agency’s Disaster Assistance program within its current operational framework and/or within a guaranteed lending framework. At the time, SBA Administrator Hector Barreto said while more disaster loan dollars have been approved in a shorter time frame following the hurricanes than in any other disaster response in the agency’s history, “that doesn’t mean there isn’t a better way.” So far, the credit union industry has been relatively quiet on ways to improve the process. CUNA had previously sought guidance on how credit unions that are not SBA Preferred Lender and Express lenders could participate in the agency’s GO Loan pilot program, a venture that aimed to process and approve expedited loans to small businesses that have been impacted by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. At press time, CUNA said it plans to comment on SBA’s disaster loan program and will post a comment call to CUs on its web site.

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