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Dear editor,

Many Louisiana small businesses are already feeling the impact from the spread of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) and its disruption of the American way of life.

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) joins the whole of government response and stands beside Louisiana’s entrepreneurs ready to help guide them through this unprecedented chapter in our country’s history.

I’m grateful to work under Administrator Jovita Carranza who understands the challenges small businesses are facing. In order to get money to small businesses across the nation sooner, she revised the criteria for states or territories seeking an economic injury declaration related to Coronavirus (COVID-19).

Her bold move to relax the criteria had two immediate impacts:

  1. Faster, Easier Qualification Process for States Seeking SBA Disaster Assistance. Historically, the SBA has required that any state or territory impacted by disaster provide documentation certifying that at least five small businesses have suffered substantial economic injury as a result of a disaster, with at least one business located in each declared county/parish. Under the just-released, revised criteria, states or territories are only required to certify that at least five small businesses within the state/territory have suffered substantial economic injury, regardless of where those businesses are located.
  2. Expanded, Statewide Access to SBA Disaster Assistance Loans for Small Businesses. SBA disaster assistance loans are typically only available to small businesses within counties identified as disaster areas by a Governor. Under the revised criteria, disaster assistance loans will be available statewide following an economic injury declaration. This will apply to current and future disaster assistance declarations related to Coronavirus.

Once SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL) are available for the state, they offer up to $2 million in assistance per small business, and can provide vital economic support, at an interest rate of 3.75 percent for small businesses without credit available elsewhere; businesses with credit available elsewhere are not eligible.

These loans may be used to pay fixed debts, payroll, accounts payable and other bills that can’t be paid because of the disaster’s impact. The direct federal loans come with long-term repayments in order to keep payments affordable, up to a maximum of 30 years.

Terms are determined on a case-by-case basis, based upon each borrower’s ability to repay. The application process as well as information on assistance available to impacted communities in Louisiana can be found on our website: https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela/.

The SBA launched www.sba.gov/coronavirus to provide information about additional resources small businesses can access now. This includes financing through SBA Loan Guarantee Program – working capital, microloans, express loans and lines of credit – and counseling services through the SBA’s Resource Partner Network to help businesses navigate preparedness plans.

This is not the first time the SBA has been asked to step forward to help the nation’s small business during times of adversity. Following the events of 9/11, SBA implemented a nationwide disaster declaration that supported and saved thousands of businesses from failure.

Feel assured that the SBA has the time-tested experience to effectively and expeditiously implement this disaster loan program on a national basis.

In Louisiana 99.5% of all business are small businesses…that’s about 447,000 small businesses who employ more than 903,000 people or 52.3 percent of the state’s workforce. The impact on small businesses could have a major impact on the state’s economy and the national economy.

SBA is the tip of the spear in this administrations effort to combat and minimize any economic disruption to Louisiana small businesses impacted by the Coronavirus outbreak (COVID-19).

We will get through this together and SBA will be there providing resources and support every step of the way.

(Justin Crossie is the regional administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration’s South Central Region VI, serving, Louisiana, Arkansas, Texas, Oklahoma and New Mexico. Follow us on Twitter @SBASouthCentral. The SBA empowers entrepreneurs and small businesses with resources to start, grow, expand or recover.)

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