The sounds of repair work being done on a semi truck engine echoed through Shayne’s Diesel and Auto Repair Tuesday morning as the owners met with their congresswoman.
Shayne’s repair shop opened in early 2019. The store is a small family-run business, with four of the six employees belonging to the Duncklee family. Southwest Washington Third Congressional District Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler visited the business as part of a stretch of stops in Cowlitz County to discuss how she helped them land a major loan from the Small Business Administration last year.
“I can’t do all that mechanically, but I have figured out how to get a bureaucrat or a federal agency to respond. That’s my juice” Herrera Beutler told owner Shayne Duncklee during her visit.
Jeana Duncklee, Shayne’s wife and business partner, applied for the Economic Injury Disaster Loan from the SBA in early 2021 as a piece of COVID-19 relief funding. Duncklee said the application was all in order except for an issue with the listed email addresses. After months of trying to make that repair and finish the application, the loan remained unsettled in October.
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“Whoever I talked to had a different story about what was wrong and what comes next. I was calling them weekly,” Duncklee said.
That was when Duncklee began asking for help from Herrera Beutler and other elected officials. Duncklee said the representative’s office was the only one that followed up in a meaningful way and helped them get approved for the loan within weeks.
The money was used to set up a new front office, buy new repair equipment and briefly bring in an additional staff member to help manage paperwork.
Herrera Beutler said helping members of the district deal with the federal government is one of the largest portions of her job. At any point in time, there are hundreds of people who have reached out to her office for help with the Department of Veterans Affairs, Social Security or broader questions about funding and grants.
Earlier on Tuesday morning, Herrera Beutler met with a group of Cowlitz County’s police officers to discuss where things stand after the most recent set of changes made by the state Legislature.
The congresswoman’s office said they helped provide $2.38 million to Southwest Washington residents through savings or benefits from federal agencies over the course of 2021.
“There are some things that can’t happen, but I don’t want to be the one to tell folks no. We use every lever we have in this office to get folks to a satisfactory outcome,” Herrera Beutler said.