SBA to offer disaster relief for drought-affected businesses
It has been a record hot summer for much of the U.S., with states across the Plains, Midwest and Eastern Seaboard recording some of the hottest and driest July temperatures in the 117 years since tracking began. Moderate to exceptional drought through the end of July covered almost two-thirds of the lower 48 states, a record for the 13-year history of the U.S. Drought Monitor, according to a report by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
To help small businesses that have been adversely affected by the weather, the U.S. Small Business Administration has issued 71 drought declarations across 32 states. These declarations, which reach more than 1,630 counties in the contiguous U.S., allow small businesses to apply for long-term, low-interest loans to meet necessary financial obligations.
Economic Injury Disaster Loans provide businesses with loans to cover payments on short-term notes, accounts payable and installment payments on long-term notes. These loans are limited to the amount that a businesses could have paid had the disaster not occurred, up to $2 million.
Interest rates on loans will not exceed 4 percent for business that are unable to obtain credit elsewhere or 8 percent for businesses that are able to secure credit from other sources. Loan repayment can be up to 30 years depending on a business’s ability to repay the loan.
Karen Mills, administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration, said in an update on SBA.gov that her group, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Department of Commerce Economic Development Administration will be hosting forums in areas affected by drought conditions with the goal of informing businesses of available resources for assistance.
The groups will also be available at state and county fairs to provide assistance and answer questions.
The SBA revised its online disaster loan application in June to make the process of applying for disaster assistance simpler. Revisions seek to make the online application easier to read and reduce the amount of time users spend filling out the form.
“To make the loan application process more streamlined and simplified, we have taken a different approach with the online applications,” said Mills in a release by the SBA. “This improvement will make those first steps toward recovery more convenient.”
Individuals and businesses that have been hurt by the drought can contact the SBA Disaster Assistance Customer Service Center by phone at 800-659-2955 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. More information about applying for disaster assistance loans can be found at the SBA Disaster Assistance section.