Small businesses in Merced County eligible for low-cost disaster loans

Merced County small, nonfarm businesses are now eligible to apply for low-interest Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDLs) from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA).

These loans offset economic losses because of reduced revenues caused by adverse weather conditions that occurred in the primary counties of Stanislaus, Yuba and San Luis Obispo.

Stanislaus and Yuba counties suffered losses from storms with excessive rain and high winds June 3 through June 6. Businesses in the neighboring counties of Alameda, Butte, Calaveras, Mariposa, Merced, Nevada, Placer, Plumas, San Joaquin, Santa Clara, Sierra, Sutter and Tuolumne are also eligible to apply for low-cost loans.

San Luis Obispo suffered freezing temperatures April 8 and 9. Businesses in the contiguous counties of Kern, Kings, Monterey and Santa Barbara are also eligible for the loans.

SBA eligibility covers both the economic effects on businesses dependent on farmers and ranchers that have suffered agricultural production losses caused by the disaster and businesses directly affected.

Small, nonfarm businesses, small agricultural cooperatives, small businesses engaged in aquaculture and most private, nonprofit organizations of any size may qualify for the loans of up to $2 million to help meet financial obligations and operating expenses which could have been met had the disaster not occurred.

Eligibility for the loans is based on the financial effect of the disaster only and not on any actual property damage. The loans have an interest rate of four percent for businesses and three percent for private, nonprofit organizations, a maximum term of 30 years and are available to those entities without the financial ability to offset the adverse effects without hardship.

By law, SBA makes the EIDLs available when the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture designates an agricultural disaster. Secretary Tom Vilsack declared this disaster at the request of Gov. Jerry Brown.

Businesses primarily engaged in farming or ranching are not eligible for SBA disaster assistance. Agricultural enterprises should contact the Farm Services Agency (FSA) about the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) assistance made available by the secretary’s declaration.Applicants may go online using the electronic loan application via SBA’s secure website at https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela.

Disaster loan information and applications are also available from SBA’s customer service center by calling toll-free (800) 659-2955, emailing disastercustomerservice@sba.gov, or visiting SBA’s website at www.sba.gov/services/disasterassistance.

The deadline to apply for those loans is March 29, 2012.-- Sun-Star staff