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WASHINGTON – With 99.5% of applications processed, the Small Business Administration said it has approved an unprecedented $10 billion in disaster loans following last year’s hurricanes. The latest numbers show more than 21,750 businesses in the disaster zone have been approved for $2.3 billion worth of loans. The approval rate for business disaster loans stands at 51%, the agency said. For homeowners and renters, 130,436 loans worth $7.7 billion have been approved. Besides SBA disaster recovery loans, the agency’s regular small business loan programs have provided 4,260 commercial loans worth more than $790 million to small businesses in the declared disaster areas. Louisiana still leads in the number of disaster loans and dollars approved at 89,622 for $6.3 billion. Following is Mississippi at 34,619 for $2.5 billion. Rounding the list is Texas for 8,487 loans for $351 million, Florida for 16,622 loans for $767 million and Alabama at 2,838 loans for $131 million. More than 320,900 properties have been inspected for damage by SBA field inspectors, according to SBA. At the height of the agency’s response, more than 4,200 people were working around the clock on disaster assistance, it added. In an effort to help as many small businesses as possible, the SBA also extended the deadline to apply for Economic Injury Disaster Loan in the areas affected by Hurricane Katrina to June 28. Small businesses in the Hurricane Rita disaster areas have until July 26 to apply. The deadline for Florida small business owners impacted after Hurricane Wilma is July 24.

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