CONTRIBUTED TO U.S. SMALL BUSINESS ADMINISTRATION
*UPDATE: The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) announced it will temporarily close its Business Recovery Centers in Autauga and Dallas counties in Alabama on Thursday, Feb. 16, due to inclement weather. The centers will resume their regular operating hours on Friday, Feb. 17.
LEE COUNTY —
The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) announced last week the addition of more Alabama counties to the disaster declaration for severe storms, straight-line winds and tornadoes that occurred on Jan. 12, enabling more Alabama businesses and residents to be eligible to apply for SBA’s low-interest disaster loan program.
The disaster declaration now covers Autauga, Coosa, Dallas, Elmore, Greene, Hale, Sumter and Tallapoosa counties in Alabama, which are eligible for both Physical and Economic Injury Disaster Loans from the SBA. Small businesses and most private nonprofit organizations in the following adjacent counties are eligible to apply only for SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDLs): Bibb, Chambers, Chilton, Choctaw, Clay, Lee, Lowndes, Macon, Marengo, Montgomery, Perry, Pickens, Randolph, Shelby, Talladega, Tuscaloosa and Wilcox in Alabama; and Kemper, Lauderdale and Noxubee in Mississippi.
“A core tenet of SBA’s mission is to render federal disaster assistance as quickly as possible to small business owners and provide critical disaster relief to the communities they serve during these types of devastating disasters,” said Francisco Sanchez Jr., associate administrator, Office of Disaster Assistance. “Our team is already on the ground actively coordinating with FEMA and other emergency response officials to provide all of the assistance we can render.”
SBA is operating two local Business Recovery Centers to assist business owners and residents in filling out a disaster loan application and providing one-on-one help and program information. The centers will operate as indicated below until further notice:
BUSINESS RECOVERY CENTER AUTAUGA COUNTY
– Prattville Area Chamber of Commerce, 131 North Court St., Prattville, Alabama, 36067
– Hours: Monday to Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Saturday, 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.; closed Sunday.
BUSINESS RECOVERY CENTER DALLAS COUNTY
– GTC Administrative Building, 2300 Summerfield Road, Selma, Alabama, 36701
– Hours: Monday to Saturday, 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.; closed Sunday.
Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the SBA has established protocols to help protect the health and safety of the public. All visitors to the BRCs are encouraged to wear a face mask. Businesses and private nonprofit organizations of any size may borrow up to $2 million to repair or replace disaster-damaged or destroyed real estate, machinery and equipment, inventory and other business assets. For small businesses, small agricultural cooperatives, small businesses engaged in aquaculture, and most private nonprofit organizations, the SBA offers Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDLs) to help meet working capital needs caused by the disaster. Economic Injury Disaster Loan assistance is available regardless of whether the business suffered any physical property damage. Disaster loans up to $200,000 are available to homeowners to repair or replace disaster-damaged or destroyed real estate. Homeowners and renters are eligible for up to $40,000 to repair or replace disaster-damaged or destroyed personal property. Interest rates are as low as 3.305% for businesses, 2.375% for nonprofit organizations and 2.313% for homeowners and renters, with terms up to 30 years. Loan amounts and terms are set by the SBA and are based on each applicant’s financial condition. Building back smarter and stronger can be an effective recovery tool for future disasters. Applicants may be eligible for a loan amount increase of up to 20% of their physical damages, as verified by the SBA, for mitigation purposes. Eligible mitigation improvements may include a safe room or storm shelter, sump pump, elevation, retaining walls and landscaping to help protect property and occupants from future damage caused by a similar disaster.
“The opportunity to include measures to help prevent future damage from occurring is a significant benefit of SBA’s disaster loan program,” Sanchez said. “I encourage everyone to consult their contractors and emergency management mitigation specialists for ideas and apply for an SBA disaster loan increase for funding.”
Applicants may apply online using the Electronic Loan Application (ELA) via SBA’s secure website at https://disasterloanassistance.sba.gov/ela/s/ and should apply under SBA declaration No. 17759.
To be considered for all forms of disaster assistance, applicants should register online at DisasterAssistance.gov or download the FEMA mobile app. If online or mobile access is unavailable, applicants should call the FEMA toll-free helpline at 800-621-3362. Those who use 711-Relay or Video Relay Services should call 800-621-3362.
Disaster loan information and application forms can also be obtained by calling the SBA’s Customer Service Center at 800-659-2955 (if you are deaf, hard of hearing or have a speech disability, please dial 7-1-1 to access telecommunications relay services) or sending an email to DisasterCustomerService@sba.gov. Loan applications can also be downloaded from sba.gov/disaster. Completed applications should be mailed to: U.S. Small Business Administration, Processing and Disbursement Center, 14925 Kingsport Road, Fort Worth, Texas, 76155. The filing deadline to return applications for physical property damage is March 16, 2023. The deadline to return economic injury applications is Oct. 16, 2023.
ABOUT THE U.S. SMALL BUSINESS ADMINISTRATION
Recently, U.S. SBA Administrator Isabella Casillas Guzman announced a policy change granting 12 months of no payments and 0% interest. This pertains to all disaster loans approved in response to disasters declared on or after Sept. 21, 2022, through Sept. 30, 2023. This policy change will benefit disaster survivors and help them to decrease the overall cost of recovery by reducing the amount of accrued interest they must repay. Details are available through the SBA Disaster Assistance Customer Service Center at 800-659-2955. Individuals with verbal or hearing impairments may dial 7-1-1 to access telecommunications relay services from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. ET, Monday to Friday, or email: DisasterCustomerService@sba.gov. The U.S. Small Business Administration helps power the American dream of business ownership. As the only go-to resource and voice for small businesses backed by the strength of the federal government, the SBA empowers entrepreneurs and small business owners with the resources and support they need to start, grow or expand their businesses, or recover from a declared disaster. It delivers services through an extensive network of SBA field offices and partnerships with public and private organizations. To learn more, visit www.sba.gov.