Small-business owners who are struggling to stay afloat amid the effects of the COVID-19 spread are about to get a lifeboat.
TheU.S. Small Business Administration is offering low-interest federal disaster loans for working capital to Michigan small businesses suffering substantial economic injury as a result of the Coronavirus (COVID-19).
SBA acted under its own authority, as provided by the Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act that was recently signed by the President, to declare a disaster following a request received from Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on March 17.
That disaster declaration, approved Thursday by SBA Administrator Jovita Carranza, makes SBA assistance available in the entire state of Michigan the surrounding counties of Elkhart, La Porte, Lagrange, St Joseph and Steuben in Indiana; Fulton, Lucas and Williams in Ohio; and Florence, Forest, Iron, Marinette and Vilas in Wisconsin.
“This program is certainly going to bring relief to small-business owners who are hurting out there,” said Robert Scott, the regional coordinator for the U.S. Small Business Administration. “
SBA Customer Service Representatives will be available to answer questions about SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan program and explain the application process. According to Scott, every small business in the region is eligible for the loans.
“SBA is strongly committed to providing the most effective and customer-focused response possible to assist Michigan small businesses with federal disaster loans,” Carranza said. “We will be swift in our efforts to help these small businesses recover from the financial impacts of … COVID-19.”
Small businesses can borrow up to $2 million on a fixed-term for up to 30 years at 3.75% interest; certain non-profits, Scott said, can get loans at 2.75%.
Businesses were able to start applying for the loans Thursday. Scott said the number of first-day applicants won’t be available “for a couple of weeks.” Michigan has some 874,000 small businesses which employ some 1.9 million workers, according to information from the SBA.
One common question, according to Scott, is the length of time it takes for loan applications to be processed.
“As of right now, it’s been fairly quick,” Scott said. “Indiana was declared two days ago, and yesterday they were already getting decisions.”
The SBA’s disaster processing center and the customer service line are open seven days a week, Scott said, and 68 district offices across the country are taking applications.
“Every single (SBA) employee in the region is solely focused on economic recovery in this area,” Scott said. “It’s an all-hands-on-deck approach.”
Applicants may apply online, receive additional disaster assistance information and download applications at https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela. Applicants may also call SBA’s Customer Service Center at (800) 659-2955 or email [email protected] for more information on SBA disaster assistance. Individuals who are deaf or hard‑of‑hearing may call (800) 877-8339. Completed applications should be mailed to U.S. Small Business Administration, Processing and Disbursement Center, 14925 Kingsport Road, Fort Worth, TX 76155.
The deadline to apply for an Economic Injury Disaster Loan is Dec. 21, 2020.