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WASHINGTON – The SBA recently reminded small business owners that were impacted by last year’s series of hurricanes that Feb. 28 is the deadline to apply for the agency’s disaster loans. Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDLs) of up to $1.5 million are available to small businesses unable to pay bills or meet operating expenses. Interest rates can start as low as 3.187% for homeowners and renters and 2.9% for businesses with terms up to 30 years. Loan amounts and terms are set by the SBA and are based upon each applicant’s financial condition. In its 2006 budget, the SBA requested $810 million in lending authority for its Disaster Loan Program. Even with the four hurricanes that impacted several states last year, SBA Administrator Hector Barreto said there is enough funding to go around. So far, the SBA has loaned out $1.4 billion in loans. During the six weeks after Hurricane Charley’s landfall in Florida on Aug. 13, 2004, an unprecedented three more hurricanes and the storms that followed caused flooding and property loss to 14 other states, Puerto Rico, and Florida again. Applicants must first call the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) at 1-800-621-FEMA first, the SBA said. For more information about SBA’s disaster assistance program, visit SBA’s Web at www.sba.gov.

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