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WASHINGTON – The SBA isn’t wasting any time fulfilling requests from small business owners who suffered losses as a result of Hurricanes Charley and Frances. At press time, the SBA had already approved 1,217 Economic Injury Disaster Loans totaling nearly $39 million for Hurricane Charley. Of that amount, 969 were for home loans; 128 for physical businesses; and 120 were for economic injury, said Carol Chastang, SBA public affairs specialist for the Office of Disaster Assistance. The bulk of the Charley loans – almost $30 million – went to home businesses that were impacted. SBA offers disaster loans of up to $1.5 million for businesses that suffered physical damages from the hurricanes. They carry a 2.9% interest rate and a term of up to 30 years and are generally used by businesses of all sizes and non-profit organizations to repair or replace damaged real estate, machinery, inventory, fixtures, and equipment. But the loans are also for businesses that may not have suffered physical damage, Chastang said. “They may not even be located in the counties hit by the hurricane,” Chastang explained. “But they’ve suffered economic losses for the obvious reasons…their suppliers’ businesses may have been wiped out, their customers are trying to sift through the rubble of their homes and aren’t able to spend money right now, roads are flooded, etc.” So far, for Hurricane Charley, the SBA has received 14,276 Economic Injury Disaster Loans applications. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has referred 256,282 Frances and Charley calls and loan applications to SBA. Chastang emphasized that the SBA’s disaster loans are direct, federal loans unlike other SBA loans that are backed by commercial banks. Applications have not come in yet for Frances, Chastang said, adding there are “sufficient funds” in the disaster appropriations to cover loans for Frances and Charley even as Hurricane Ivan makes its way on shore impacting several Gulf states and Florida’s Panhandle at press time.

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