SBA drought loans available in Georgia

Special to the Henry Daily Herald

ATLANTA -- The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) announced recently that federal disaster loans are available to small businesses and small agricultural cooperatives located in all Georgia counties as a result of damages, and losses to crops, caused by drought since Jan. 1, 2007.

"SBA's disaster declaration was issued as a result of a similar action taken by the Secretary of Agriculture to help farmers recover from damages and losses to crops," said Frank Skaggs, director of SBA Field Operations Center East.

Under this declaration, SBA's Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program is available to farm-related and nonfarm-related small business concerns, and small agricultural cooperatives, that suffered economic injury as a direct result of this disaster.

Farmers and ranchers are not eligible to apply to SBA, but nurseries are eligible to apply for economic injury disaster loans for losses caused by drought conditions.

Eligible small businesses and small agricultural cooperatives may qualify for loans up to $1.5 million. These loans are available at a 4-percent interest rate, with loan terms up to 30 years.

The SBA determines eligibility for the program based on the size and type of business and its financial resources. Loan amounts and terms are set by the SBA and are based upon each applicant's financial condition.

Under this disaster declaration, theSBA cannot provide loans to agricultural producers.

Interested business owners should contact the SBA's Customer Service Center, by calling 1-800-659-2955 (1-800-877-8339 for the hearing-impaired), Monday through Friday, from 8 a.m., to 9 p.m., and Saturday from 9 a.m., to 5:30 p.m. (EDT).

Business-loan applications can also be downloaded from the SBA's web site at www.sba.gov/services/disasterassistance.

Completed applications should be mailed to: U.S. Small Business Administration, Processing and Disbursement Center, 14925 Kingsport Road, Fort Worth, Texas 76155.

Completed loan applications must be returned to theSBA no later than March 27, 2008.