The U.S. Small Business Administration has announced that Economic Injury Disaster Loans are available to small businesses, small agricultural cooperatives, small aquaculture businesses and private, nonprofit organizations in Geneva and Houston counties as a result of drought that began Oct. 8.

“These counties are eligible because they are contiguous to one or more primary counties in Florida. The Small Business Administration recognizes that disasters do not usually stop at county or state lines. For that reason, counties adjacent to primary counties named in the declaration are included,” said Kem Fleming, director of SBA’s Field Operations Center East.

According to a SBA news release, under this declaration, the loans are available to eligible entities that suffered financial losses as a direct result of this disaster. With the exception of aquaculture enterprises, the SBA cannot provide disaster loans to agricultural producers, farmers and ranchers. Nurseries are eligible to apply for economic injury disaster loans for losses caused by drought conditions.

The loan amount can be up to $2 million with interest rates of 4% for small businesses and 2.75% for private, nonprofit organizations, with terms up to 30 years. The SBA determines eligibility based on the size of the applicant, type of activity and its financial resources.

Loan amounts and terms are set by the SBA and are based on applicants’ financial conditions. 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.

Applicants can apply online using the electronic loan application at the SBA’s secure website, disasterloan.sba.gov. Loan information and application forms also can be obtained by calling the customer service center at 800-659-2955 (800-877-8339 for the deaf and hard-of-hearing) or by sending an email to disaster customerservice@sba.gov.

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