Entrepreneurs around the country are already feeling the effects of the social distancing and quarantine measures taken by those attempting to reduce the spread of the coronavirus.
To assist these small businesses, the U.S. Small Business Administration has announced low-interest disaster loans for firms in need. Visitors to the SBA’s web page can find a place to “apply for assistance” — though at the time of publication, that page appeared to be down.
According to the SBA, the disaster loans — to be given in amounts of up to $2 million — are intended to make up for lost revenue. Small business owners can use this assistance to “pay fixed debts, payroll, accounts payable and other bills that can’t be paid because of the disaster’s impact,” the SBA site says.
To keep them affordable, a 3.75 percent interest rate has been attached, and long-term repayment options — as long as 30 years — are available, to be given out to entrepreneurs on a case-by-case basis.
SBA Administrator Jovita Carranza said in a statement that her office plans to “work directly with state governors to provide targeted, low-interest disaster recovery loans to small businesses that have been severely impacted by the situation.”
According to some reports, business owners must have fewer than 500 employees, live in a designated disaster area and not have open lines of credit elsewhere. It’s unclear what other criteria the SBA will use in determining who gets the loans. While the SBA routinely supplies disaster relief loans after catastrophes such as hurricanes or fires, those events are usually specific to certain regions — not the entire country. It’s also unclear how soon business will be able to access any funds received.
Those with additional questions are encouraged to contact the SBA’s customer service office by either calling 1-800-659-2955 or sending an e-mail [email protected].