Several businesses take out applications for SBA help; low-interest loans also available for farmers impacted by storm

A Small Business Administration representative is visiting with local business owners this week to discuss low-interest loans that are available to help offset financial losses suffered during the storm that covered the county’s roads with snow and ice Dec. 12 to Jan. 5.

Gwenda Barker is available today, Thursday and Friday, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., in the second floor conference room of the County Legislative Building at 55 Second St. in Friday Harbor. She opened the temporary SBA in the Legislative Building Feb. 5 and by the next day had met with six business owners who sought help recovering from financial losses they suffered.

On Monday, Barker visited Orcas Island; on Tuesday, she visited Lopez Island. Today through Friday, she’s back in Friday Harbor. She’s issued five or six loan applications each day. She expects several businesses to turn in their applications by Friday, although businesses have until Oct. 30 to apply.

The interest rate is 4 percent.

“This program provides low-interest loans to help businesses that suffered financial losses, rather than for repairing property damage,” Barker said, noting that property damage in this area was not sufficient to have the county declared part of a disaster area.

The loans being offered are designed to provide a financial bridge over the stress caused by losses of sales or inability to ship merchandise or perform work because of the storms.

A flier with more details is available online CLICK HERE.

Besides being the bearer of hope, Barker said she’s enjoyed her visit with local businesses. “People are very, very nice. It’s been a pleasure to help them.”

Loans of 3.75 percent are also available to cover farm losses in San Juan and 20 other Washington counties, through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farm Service Agency.

Mark S. Turner, farm loan manager, said the loans can be used to help repair rain- or snow-related damages to agricultural land and structures. The interest rate is 3.75 percent, with payment terms up to 40 years with real estate security. Application deadline is the last week in September.

Call Turner at (360) 354-5658.