Small Business Association tells Rotarians the ways they can help

Published 4:21 pm Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Brian Beard, Public Affairs Specialist with the U.S. Small Business Administration office of Disaster Assistance spoke to the Bainbridge Rotary Club Tuesday.

He explained some of the ways the SBA helps people who have been affected by Hurricane Michael.

The agency helps much more than businesses. They offer low interest loans to homeowners who had damages not covered by insurance. Homeowners can apply for low-interest loans for primary residences up to $200,000, with rates as low as 2 percent for a 30-year term. Renters and homeowners can apply for loans up to $40,000 for personal property damages. They will also assist owners of rental properties that have uninsured damages, with rates as low as 3.75 percent. But the most important message to potential borrowers is that they must register first with FEMA, which then refers them to the SBA, and the deadline to apply to FEMA is December 13.

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There is a FEMA Disaster Center located in the Coliseum on Wheat Street and it is open Monday through Saturday until 6 p.m.

Beard urged those considering applying to act now getting registered and apply for the loans, even if they decide later not to take them. “Go ahead and get in the system. You then have 60 days to decide if you want it or not” he explains.

Some additional benefits are an eleven-month deferment on the first repayment, and no collateral is required for loans under $25,000.  Applicants must meet ability to repay. All household income is reviewed and consideration given to the number of persons living in the home.

As far as business loans go, businesses of all sizes and non-profits can apply for SBA disaster loans up to $2 million for physical damages to the business real estate, inventory and equipment.

Recognizing that many businesses have had their work interrupted and business income delayed from the storm, may apply for a working capital loan to keep things going until business picks up. They don’t even need to have physical damages in order to qualify. The deadline for business applications for working capital loans is in July.

Loans are even available to assist those who want to take measures of improvement to defer any future storm damages.

Beard said he realized in this area the biggest need was for farmers who have lost their crops (Cotton and timber for instance.) However, the SBA does not make loans to the farmers. They must apply through the USDA.  SBA does work with agriculture related businesses and processors, however.

Remember the FEMA deadline is December 13. Act now to start homeowner or renter applications.