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Island businesses may qualify for winter-storm disaster relief

The federal Small Business Administration will open a Disaster Loan Outreach Center in the San Juan County Courthouse this month to accept applications for business losses caused by the winter storms.

SBA officials will be in the courthouse, second floor, on Feb. 5-6, and Feb. 11-13, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

The SBA is making low-interest Economic Injury Disaster Loans available to small businesses economically impacted by snowstorms in Washington that occurred from Dec. 12, 2008 to Jan. 5, 2009.

The declaration covers all counties in Washington and neighboring counties in Idaho and Oregon.

SBA’s disaster declaration immediately makes these low-interest disaster loans available to help small businesses and most private, non-profit organizations meet financial needs caused by the disaster.

“The U.S. Small Business Administration is strongly committed to providing the most effective and customer-focused response possible to assist Washington’s small businesses with federal disaster loans,” Acting Administrator Darryl Hairston said in a press release.

“Getting our businesses up and running after a disaster is our highest priority at SBA.”

Hairston’s action responded to a Jan. 28 request from Gov. Christine Gregoire. Alfred E. Judd, director of SBA’s Disaster Field Operations Center — West, said SBA acted under its own authority to declare this disaster.

“This disaster declaration is a separate event from President Obama’s Jan. 30 declaration for the severe winter storms, flooding, landslides and mudslides that occurred from Jan. 6 through Jan. 16 in eight Washington counties,” Judd said.

SBA is offering working capital loans of up to $2 million at an interest rate of 4 percent with terms up to 30 years.

“These loans may be used to pay fixed debts, payroll, accounts payable and other bills that can’t be paid because of the disaster’s impact. These loans can provide vital economic assistance to small businesses affected by the snowstorms to help overcome the temporary financial impacts they are experiencing.

“Due to the economic loss the December snow storms caused small businesses in Washington, we want to provide every available service to help get them back on their feet. SBA is opening nine Disaster Loan Outreach Centers where SBA customer service representatives will be available to meet individually with each business owner to explain how an SBA disaster loan can help finance their recovery.

“We can answer your questions about SBA’s disaster loan program, explain the application process and accept your completed application,” he said.

Applicants may apply for SBA loan assistance online using the Electronic Loan Application via SBA’s secure Web site, https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela. CLICK HERE.

Disaster loan information and application forms may also be obtained from SBA’s Customer Service Center by calling toll-free (800) 659‑2955, e-mailing disastercustomerservice@sba.gov, or by visiting SBA’s Web site at www.sba.gov/services/disasterassistance. CLICK HERE.

Hearing-impaired individuals may call (800) 877‑8339.

The deadline to apply for these loans is Oct. 30.

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