Small Business Administration offering disaster aid to small Florida businesses affected by red tide

Representatives available to assist public at Bee Ridge Park in Sarasota

(Editor’s note: This article was updated late in the afternoon of Sept. 10 with additional information about the loans themselves.)

Workers clear dead fish from a county beach on Aug. 14. Image courtesy Sarasota County

Low-interest Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDLs) from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) are available to Florida small businesses, small agricultural cooperatives, small aquacultural businesses and private nonprofit organizations affected by the red tide algal bloom that began Nov. 1, 2017, the state has announced.

SBA Administrator Linda McMahon made the loans available in response to a letter from Gov. Rick Scott on Aug. 21, requesting a disaster declaration by the SBA, a news release says. The declaration covers Sarasota, Lee an Manatee counties, as well as the adjacent counties of Charlotte, Collier, DeSoto, Glades, Hardee, Hendry, Hillsborough and Polk, the release points out.

SBA customer service representatives will be available at Disaster Loan Outreach Centers to answer questions about the disaster loan program and to help individuals complete their applications, the release notes.

A Sarasota County Center opened in Bee Ridge Park on Sept. 7 and will maintain hours of 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, the release says. The center also will be open on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The park is located at 4430 S. Lockwood Ridge Road in Sarasota.

The Manatee County center will be in the Island Branch of the Manatee County Library System, located at 5701 Marina Road in Holmes Beach. It also opened on Sept. 7, and it will keep the same hours as the Sarasota center.

Eligible entities may qualify for loans up to $2 million, the release says. “The SBA offers economic injury loans to help meet working capital needs caused by the disaster,” it adds.

The rates on these loans are 3.385% for small businesses and 2.5% for nonprofit organizations, with terms up to 30 years, the release explains. “Eligibility for these working capital loans are based on the size and type of business and its financial resources. These working capital loans may be used to pay fixed debts, payroll, accounts payable, and other bills that could have been paid had the disaster not occurred. The loans are not intended to replace lost sales or profits,” the release points out.

Applicants may apply online using the Electronic Loan Application (ELA) via SBA’s secure website at DisasterLoan.sba.gov.

The filing deadline to return applications for economic injury is June 4, 2019, the release notes.

“The SBA is strongly committed to providing the people of Florida with the most effective and customer- focused response possible to assist small businesses with federal Economic Injury Disaster Loans,” said McMahon in the release. “Getting businesses and communities up and running after a disaster is our highest priority at SBA.”

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