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Wednesday, February 1, 2023

U.S. Small Business Administration offering disaster assistance to Marion County businesses, residents affected by tornado

The U.S. Small Business Administration is offering low-interest disaster loans for local businesses and residents who were affected by the EF-1 tornado that passed through Marion County on March 12.

SBA Administrator Isabella Casillas Guzman made the loans available in response to a letter dated March 24 from Florida Governor Ron DeSantis requesting a disaster declaration by the SBA.

Businesses and residents in the declared area, which includes Marion County and adjacent counties (Alachua, Citrus, Lake, Levy, Putnam, Sumter, and Volusia), are now able to apply for a low-interest disaster loan from the SBA.

To assist the affected businesses and residents, the SBA will be opening a Disaster Loan Outreach Center (DLOC) in Marion County on Monday, April 4, at the Ocala Public Library (2720 E Silver Springs Boulevard in Ocala). The center’s hours of operation are Monday through Friday (9 a.m. to 6 p.m.) and Saturday (10 a.m. to 2 p.m.).

The DLOC will permanently close on Saturday, April 16 at 2 p.m.

Customer service representatives will be available at the DLOC to answer questions about the disaster loan program and to help individuals complete their applications. Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, all visitors at the DLOC are encouraged to wear a face mask.

SBA’s North Florida District Director Jon “Malcolm” Richards said, “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.”

For small businesses, small agricultural cooperatives, small businesses engaged in aquaculture, and most private nonprofit organizations, the SBA is offering Economic Injury Disaster Loans. Loan assistance is available regardless of whether or not the business suffered any physical property damage.

According to SBA, loans up to $200,000 are available to homeowners to repair or replace real estate that has been damaged or destroyed. Homeowners and renters are also eligible for loans of up to $40,000 to repair or replace personal property that was damaged or destroyed.

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

Interest rates are as low as 2.94% for businesses, 1.875% for nonprofit organizations, and 1.438% for homeowners and renters, with terms up to 30 years. Loan amounts and terms are set by the SBA and are based on each applicant’s financial condition.

Anyone interested in a loan can apply online by visiting the U.S. Small Business Administration Disaster Loan Assistance web page. Applicants should apply under the SBA declaration #17379. Loan applications can also be downloaded by clicking here.

Disaster loan information and application forms can also be obtained by contacting the SBA’s customer service center via phone: 1-800-659-2955 or email: [email protected].

Completed applications should be returned to the Disaster Loan Outreach 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 Friday, May 27.