Low-interest federal disaster loans are now available to Louisiana businesses and residents as a result of President Obama's major disaster declaration, U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) Administrator Maria Contreras-Sweet announced.

The declaration covers East Baton Rouge, Livingston, Saint Helena and Tangipahoa parishes as a result of the severe storms and flooding that began on Aug. 11, 2016.

"SBA is strongly committed to providing Louisiana with the most effective and customer-focused response possible and with access to federal disaster loans to help Louisiana businesses and residents affected by this disaster," Contreras-Sweet said. "Getting our businesses and communities up and running after a disaster is our highest priority at SBA."

Businesses of all sizes and private nonprofit organizations may borrow up to $2 million to repair or replace damaged or destroyed real estate, machinery and equipment, inventory, and other business assets. SBA can also lend additional funds to businesses and homeowners to help with the cost of improvements to protect, prevent or minimize the same type of disaster damage from occurring in the future.

For small businesses, small agricultural cooperatives, small businesses engaged in aquaculture, and most private nonprofit organizations of any size, SBA offers Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDLs) to help meet working capital needs caused by the disaster. EIDL assistance is available to businesses regardless of any property damage.

Disaster loans up to $200,000 are available to homeowners to repair or replace damaged or destroyed real estate. Homeowners and renters are eligible for up to $40,000 to repair or replace damaged or destroyed personal property.

Interest rates can be as low as four percent for businesses, 2.625 percent for private nonprofit organizations and 1.563 percent for homeowners and renters with terms up to 30 years. Loan amounts and terms are set by SBA and are based on each applicant's financial condition.

To be considered for all forms of disaster assistance, victims must first call the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) at (800) 621-FEMA (3362). As soon as Federal-State Disaster Recovery Centers open throughout the affected area, SBA will provide one-on-one assistance to disaster loan applicants. Additional information and details on the location of disaster recovery centers is available by calling the SBA Customer Service Center at (800) 659-2955.

Area recovery centers now open

The U.S. Small Business Administration, Louisiana Economic Development and the Louisiana Small Business Development Center Network has announced the opening of Business Recovery Centers in Baton Rouge, Lafayette, Baker, Prairieville and Amite to provide a wide range of services to businesses impacted by recent flooding. A sixth center, in Walker, began serving businesses in Livingston Parish and neighboring areas on Thursday.

The new Business Recovery Centers will be open at the following locations and times:

Prairieville: BancorpSouth Bank, 13423 Louisiana 73, Mondays through Fridays from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Baton Rouge: Louisiana State Archives, 3851 Essen Lane (near Interstate 12), Mondays through Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Lafayette: Louisiana Immersive Technologies Enterprise (LITE) Executive Conference Room, 537 Cajundome Blvd., Mondays through Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., Sundays from noon to 4 p.m.

Baker: Baker Workforce Development Center, 3262 Baker Blvd., Mondays through Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Sundays from noon to 4 p.m.

Amite: Amite Chamber of Commerce, 101 SE Central Ave., Mondays through Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., Sundays from noon to 4 p.m.

SBA wants to provide every available service to help businesses in Louisiana get up and running again following the severe property damage and economic losses inflicted by the flooding, SBA’s Louisiana District Director Michael Ricks said. The centers provide a one-stop location for businesses to access a variety of specialized help.

No appointment is necessary, and all services are provided free of charge. Specialists from SBA and LSBDC will be available to meet individually with each business owner; the SBA representatives can explain how an SBA disaster loan can help finance their recovery and guide the business owner through the application process. 

LSBDC consultants at the center will provide counseling on a wide variety of matters designed to help small business owners re-establish their operations, overcome the effects of the disaster and plan for their future, LSBDC State Director Rande Kessler said. Services include assessing business economic injury, evaluating the business’s strength, cash flow projections and, most importantly, a review of all options to ensure each business makes decisions that are appropriate for its situation.

LSBDC representatives also will provide program information, answer questions and help businesses apply for this much-needed financial help, Kessler said. 

LED Secretary Don Pierson, Ricks and Kessler want to ensure that impacted businesses secure the financial assistance they need to resume normal operations.

LED spearheaded the partnership with SBA and LSBDCs to launch the Business Recovery Centers, Pierson said. The highly trained and experienced team of consultants staffing the centers will be available to provide business consulting services designed to help these business owners re-establish their operations and plan for their future, he said.

Businesses of any size and private, nonprofit organizations may borrow up to $2 million to repair or replace damaged or destroyed real estate, machinery and equipment, inventory, and other business assets. These loans cover losses that are not fully covered by insurance or other recoveries. 

For small businesses, small agricultural cooperatives, small businesses engaged in aquaculture, and most private, nonprofit organizations of any size, SBA offers Economic Injury Disaster Loans to help meet working capital needs caused by the disaster. EIDL assistance is available regardless of whether the business suffered any property damage.