POMEROY — In the wake of West Virginia’s major flooding in late June, businesses and nonprofits in Meigs County will be eligible for loans via the Small Business Administration.
The federal agency includes counties adjacent to federally declared disaster areas in its relief efforts.
“The adjoining or neighboring counties are included in our declaration because we know that the impact on businesses usually does not stop at the county line,” said Kathy Cook, public affairs specialist for the SBA.
The Small Business Administration is most well-known for disaster relief loans, which provide capital during the aftermath of a crisis.
“We want to keep business in business,” Cook said. “Some businesses have insurance, savings, the ability to get through, and some don’t. “
In officially declared disaster areas, the SBA grants “physical disaster” and “economic injury” loans. The first type is often a primary source of funding during rebuilding, with more than $340 million approved in Ohio since 1989. The second targets small business and nonprofits that did not lose property in a catastrophe, but still suffered negative economic effects.
“Even if you aren’t flooded, your vendors might be,” Cook said, using cross-river delivery businesses as an example. “We anticipate that neighboring areas might have related needs.”
The SBA uses Federal Emergency Preparedness Administration declarations, and then extends the “economic injury” eligibility to counties bordering the official disaster areas. Nearby West Virginia counties Logan, Mason, Mingo, Wayne, and Wood were all added to the SBA declaration, and Meigs became the only one eligible in Ohio.
“Ohio has its fair share of disasters, and a state can decide federal help is needed,” Cook said. “FEMA makes their declaration by county and allows individuals to register for assistance. They’re aimed at immediate recovery. Our job is long-term recovery.”
“Economic injury” may be a nebulous term for many, but not to business owners. The sudden reduction in commerce can be lethal to small businesses.
As Cook outlined, “Payroll, mortgage, taxes are still due even during an interruption. Insurance might not be settled quickly enough.”
The SBA offers compare favorably with market loans at sometimes 4 percent for businesses and 2.625 percent for nonprofit organizations, with terms up to 30 years.
“No cost to apply except time, and of course, no obligation to take a loan if one is offered,” she said. “We offer free assistance preparing all the documents and walking through the process.”
For more information, call the SBA’s Customer Service Center at 1-800-659-2955 or visiting www.sba.gov/disaster. The deadline to return economic injury applications is March 27, 2017.