The U.S. Small Business Administration has expanded the scope of its disaster-relief loans, making the emergency funds available nationwide to small businesses that have been directly affected by the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and subsequent economic slowdown.
Businesses have until Jan. 21, 2002, to apply for loans of up to $1.5 million at a 4% interest rate. There is no cap on the total amount of money that will be loaned. The expanded scope of the loans will most likely draw applications from vendors whose businesses rely on airport travel and small aviation services, among others.
"As a result of the events of September 11, President Bush recognized the need to help businesses beyond the immediate disaster area," says Hector V. Barreto, head of the Small Business Administration in Washington, D.C. "I've heard from small-business owners all over the country who have suffered losses. The president believes that the wider availability of these loans will provide the necessary capital small businesses need in a quick and efficient manner."
The special Economic Injury Disaster Loans had previously been available only to small businesses in New York City, Washington, D.C., and adjacent communities which President Bush had declared disaster areas.
In the aftermath of last month's attacks, the SBA has already made more than 460 disaster loans, amounting to $49.9 million, to businesses in the areas near the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.
The SBA determines the amount of economic injury, the term of each loan, and the payment amount based on the financial circumstances of each borrower. Business owners interested in applying for the loans can find out more from their regional SBA offices or on the SBA's Web site.
By Robin J. Phillips in New York