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SBA: Seek loans

By By Kerry Whipple Bean
publisher

Small Business Association officials have some advice for those affected by last month’s flood: “Don’t be afraid of the word ‘loan.’”
That’s what SBA spokesman Richard Daigle advised business owners ahead of the group’s meetings this week in Brewton with affected merchants.
If business owners are approved for a loan, they can still reject the funds, Daigle said. But if they miss the deadline, they won’t have the opportunity for assistance.
SBA officials were in Atmore last week and will continue their meetings at the Atmore Public Library today until 1 p.m. They will be in Brewton Monday and Tuesday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the emergency management office in the Escambia County Courthouse.
Daigle said interest rates could be as low as 2.5 percent on the loans.
SBA workers Daphene Graham and Beth Baldree were in Atmore last week to help business owners and homeowners fill out applications for loans.
Baldree said applications will be filed and processed quickly.
Applicant Cynthia Cooper of Atmore said she wasn’t sure how the loan would help.
Damage to private property — homes and businesses — did not meet a threshold for federal grant assistance, although the county and municipalities will receive funding to help repair damaged roads and bridges.
While the funding that SBA provides is a loan, Daigle said business and homeowners would be wise at least to apply.
Property owners can also appeal if they think they need more funding, and can seek additional funding for mitigation.
Loans up to $200,000 are available to homeowners to repair or replace damaged or destroyed real estate.  Homeowners and renters are eligible for loans up to $40,000 to repair or replace damaged or destroyed personal property.”
Businesses and non-profit organizations of any size may borrow up to $2 million to repair or replace damaged or destroyed real estate, machinery and equipment, inventory, and other business assets.”
Business loan applications can also be downloaded from the SBA Web site at www.sba.gov/services/disasterassistance. Completed applications should be returned to one of the Centers or mailed to: U.S. Small Business Administration, Processing and Disbursement Center, 14925 Kingsport Road, Fort Worth, TX 76155.
The filing deadline to return applications for physical property damage is March 1, 2010. The deadline to return economic injury applications is Sept. 29. 
Chandler Myers contributed to this report.