The Small Business Administration is expanding in downtown Buffalo to support natural disaster relief efforts.
The SBA last month said it would hire more people to work out of its Disaster Assistance Customer Service Center, in response to the destruction caused by hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria, as well as the California wildfires. The Buffalo office's sister center in Forth Worth, Texas the Processing and Disbursement Customer Service Center for SBA's Office of Disaster Assistance – is establishing a unit in Buffalo to help process and close loans.
The new unit could hire 80 to 100 people to work in office space that was vacated by the Internal Revenue Service, said Colleen Hiam, director of the SBA disaster assistance center. While the new jobs are classified as "temporary," some could last two or three years, or even longer. The jobs include loan officers, attorneys and paralegals.
SBA administrator Linda McMahon was scheduled to tour the SBA offices on Tuesday, but her visit was postponed due to a flight cancelation caused by weather. It will be rescheduled.
McMahon was appointed SBA administrator by President Trump. She is the co-founder and former CEO of what is now called World Wrestling Entertainment. McMahon is visiting SBA districts around the country on her "SBA Ignite" tour, meeting with small business owners to hear their concerns.
Buffalo is to home to one of a handful of SBA disaster-assistance operations around the country that handle calls and emails from people whose homes or businesses were impacted by natural disasters and are applying for financial help.
Even without the new SBA unit that is being established, Buffalo's disaster assistance center has been busy, with about 275 employees working either on site or from home, Hiam said. The center is taking 10,000 to 12,000 calls per day. That compares to about 55 employees handling about 300 to 350 calls per day related to disasters before the hurricanes and wildfires struck.
The Buffalo location is also home to the SBA's Buffalo district office, which works with small businesses across a 14-county upstate territory. The office's director, Franklin J. Sciortino, had invited McMahon to visit Buffalo.