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Area residents and businesses affected by February’s severe storms and tornadoes may be eligible for low-interest disaster loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration, officials said Monday.

The SBA made the loans available in response to a letter from Gov. Rick Scott on March 31 requesting a disaster declaration by the SBA. The SBA issued two declarations, covering Escambia and Santa Rosa counties in Florida and Escambia and Baldwin counties in Alabama.

“The SBA is strongly committed to providing the people of Florida with the most effective and customer-focused response possible to assist businesses of all sizes, homeowners and renters with federal disaster loans,” said SBA Administrator Maria Contreras-Sweet. “Getting businesses and communities up and running after a disaster is our highest priority at SBA.”

SBA’s customer service representatives will be available at Disaster Loan Outreach Centers in Century and Pensacola, until Thursday, April 21 at 3 p.m., to answer questions about the disaster loan program and help individuals complete their applications.

The Center addresses and hours of operation are:

Century Business Center
140 East Pond Street
Century, Florida 32535

Opening: Tues., April 12 at 8 a.m.
Hours: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Weekdays, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sat., April 16
Closed: Sun., April 17
Closing: Thurs., April 21 at 3 p.m.

West Florida Regional Planning Council
4081 E. Olive Road, Suite A
Pensacola, Florida 32514

Opening: Tues., April 12 at 8 a.m.
Hours: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mon. through Thurs., 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Fri., April 15 and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sat., April 16
Closed: Sun., April 17
Closing: Thurs., April 21 at 3 p.m.

“Businesses and private nonprofit organizations may borrow up to $2 million to repair or replace disaster damaged or destroyed real estate, machinery and equipment, inventory, and other business assets,” said Wilfredo Gonzalez, SBA’s North Florida District Director.

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

“Loans up to $200,000 are available to homeowners to repair or replace damaged or destroyed real estate. Homeowners and renters are eligible for loans up to $40,000 to repair or replace damaged or destroyed personal property,” said Frank Skaggs, director of SBA’s Field Operations Center East in Atlanta.

Applicants may be eligible for a loan amount increase up to 20 percent of their physical damages, as verified by the SBA for mitigation purposes. Eligible mitigation improvements may now include a safe room or storm shelter to help protect property and occupants from future damage caused by a similar disaster.

Interest rates are as low as 4 percent for businesses, 2.625 percent for nonprofit organizations, and 1.813 percent for homeowners and renters with terms up to 30 years. Loan amount and terms are set by the SBA and are based on each applicant’s financial condition.

Applicants may apply online using the Electronic Loan Application (ELA) via SBA’s secure website at https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela.

Businesses and individuals may also obtain information and loan applications by calling the SBA’s Customer Service Center at 1-800-659-2955 (1-800-877-8339 for the deaf and hard-of-hearing), or by emailing [email protected] Loan applications can also be downloaded at www.sba.gov/disaster. Completed applications should be returned to the center or mailed to: U.S. Small Business Administration, Processing and Disbursement Center, 14925 Kingsport Road, Fort Worth, TX 76155.

The filing deadline to return applications for physical property damage is June 6, 2016. The deadline to return economic injury applications is January 9, 2017. For more information about the SBA’s Disaster Loan Program, visit our website at www.sba.gov/disaster.

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