The U.S. Small Business Administration and the Economic Development Bank announced Monday the availability of emergency and disaster loans for small and mid-sized businesses, as well as homeowners, whose property was either lost or damaged by Hurricane Irene.
The agencies launched their emergency programs following the disaster declaration President Barack Obama signed over the weekend.
The SBA is making available to homeowners disaster loans up to $200,000 to repair or replace damaged or destroyed real estate. Furthermore, homeowners and renters are eligible up to $40,000 to repair or replace disaster damaged or destroyed personal property.
Businesses and private nonprofit organizations of any size may borrow up to $2 million to repair or replace disaster damaged or destroyed real estate, machinery and equipment, inventory, and other business assets, SBA Administrator Karen G. Mills said in an statement issued Monday.
“The U.S. Small Business Administration is strongly committed to providing the people of Puerto Rico with the most effective and customer-focused response possible to assist homeowners, renters, and businesses with federal disaster loans,” she said. “Getting businesses and communities up and running after a disaster is our highest priority at SBA.”
Obama’s disaster declaration blankets Caguas, Canóvanas, Carolina, Cayey, Loiza, Luquillo and San Juan, which are eligible for both physical and economic injury disaster loans from the SBA. Small businesses and most private nonprofit organizations in Aguas Buenas, Aibonito, Catańo, Ceiba, Cidra, Fajardo, Guayama, Guaynabo, Gurabo, Juncos, Las Piedras, Patillas, Rio Grande, Salinas, San Lorenzo and Trujillo Alto are eligible to apply only for economic injury disaster loans, she said.
The agency is offering interest rates are as low as 2.5 percent for homeowners and renters, 3 percent for nonprofit organizations and 4 percent for businesses with terms up to 30 years. The filing deadline to return applications for physical property damage is October 26, 2011, while economic injury applications must be submitted by May 28, 2012.
Meanwhile, EDB President Ivonne Otero said the agency is offering emergency financing of up to $25,000 to current agency clients affected by the storm, which they can use as working capital, buy machinery and/or equipment, and make permanent structural improvements.
“The Bank has the capital to support businesses during these difficult times. Similarly, we’re making the rest of the EDB’s programs and products available to other entrepreneurs who have been harmed by Irene,” she said.
While working capital loans must be repaid in five years, loans for structural repairs can be paid back in 10 years, the EDB said.
“Governor Luis Fortuño, like all government agencies, have been working tirelessly to return the island to normal in record time. In our case the EDB will support our small and mid-sized entrepreneurs so they can continue working and contributing to the sustainability of our economy,” said Otero.
The EDB’s announcement followed a meeting Fortuño headed with the heads of about 25 local government agencies, as well as representatives from U.S. Homeland Security and the Federal Emergency Management Agency, to get updated on post-Irene recovery efforts.
“As government, we must do everything possible to lessen the effects left by these systems on the population,” Fortuño said. “From the beginning we worked as a team to ensure all Puerto Ricans a speedy recovery, offering aid and the necessary support to all those families who were affected.”