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SBA offering loans to offset Zeta effects

Hurricane Zeta disaster assistance from the Small Business Administration became available Jan. 4 and after only a few days over $100,000 in loan funds have been approved for Mississippi businesses and nonprofits.

Low interest federal loans are available for small businesses and nonprofits in Pearl River County that can’t meet their financial obligations as a direct result of Hurricane Zeta. Businesses and nonprofits, including churches, in Pearl River, Forrest, Perry and Wayne counties can apply for SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loans of up to $2 million. Businesses and nonprofits in those counties do not have to provide evidence of physical damage because they are not eligible for Physical Injury Disaster Loans.
In George, Greene, Hancock, Harrison, Jackson and Stone counties, residents, businesses and nonprofits can apply for both Physical and Economic Injury Disaster Loans.

In those six counties homeowners can apply for loans of up to $200,000 to repair or replace real estate. Renters and homeowners can get loans up to $40,000 to repair or replace personal property. For businesses and nonprofits in those six counties, Physical Injury Disaster Loans of up to $2 million are available to replace or repair real estate, machinery and equipment, inventory and other business assets.

While the SBA does not have a physical disaster recovery center for Hurricane Zeta, the same customer service representatives who would normally staff those centers are available seven days a week through a virtual outreach center, said Demetria Clark, Public Affairs Specialist with the SBA Office of Disaster Assistance.

The deadline for Economic Injury Disaster Loan applications is Oct. 1 and the deadline for Physical Damage applications is March 1.

Those affected do not have to wait on an insurance settlement to apply for an SBA loan, and even after applying, people can decide not to take the loan or not take the full amount approved, said Clark.

“I would encourage people to apply as soon as they become aware of any damage that occurred, whether economic damage or physical.”

The first step for applying for assistance is registering with FEMA at DisasterAssistance.gov, through the FEMA mobile app or by calling 800-621-3362. The second step is applying. Applications can be downloaded at disasterloan.sba.gov/ela and applicants can call SBA’s Customer Service Center at 800-659-2955 or email FOCE-Help@sba.gov for more information.