Friday, September 20, 2013

Help on the way for business owners?

Agencies seeking assistance for those affected by fire


By CHRISTINE COLBERT

     After experiencing a significant loss of business traffic during the peak August season, Blaine County small-business owners may have some options toward recovering from the recent Beaver Creek Fire.

     A fire recovery seminar was presented to the public Tuesday night at the Sun Valley Inn. Multiple agencies presented information at the event, offering loan-based solutions that may ease the pain felt by some of the area’s local businesses.

     Presently, the physical damage caused by the Beaver Creek Fire has not necessitated a declaration of disaster-based economic injury from the U.S Small Business Administration. There is still time to achieve that status, and local businesses can help the process along through their active participation. A representative from the Idaho Department of Commerce urged small-business owners to make their voices heard, which would likely result in a disaster designation for Blaine County.

     Completing an “Estimated Disaster Economic Injury Worksheet,” available through the Department of Commerce website, is the first step toward promoting the change in status. At least five applications must be submitted to bring forth an economic injury declaration. The worksheet requires information regarding impact to business revenue, estimated dollar loss and an explanation of the adverse effects experienced by the fire.

     “As these forms are coming in, we are immediately sharing them with the SBA,” said Jerry Miller, economic development specialist for the Department of Commerce.

     If enough applications are received, the SBA can make the disaster declaration in as few as 72 hours. If the county receives approval for economic injury assistance, local business owners can then apply for economic injury disaster loans. The turn-around time for these loans is uncertain, but SBA district director Rodney Grzadzielseski estimated a wait time of approximately one month.

     “The good news is, there’s not a lot of active disasters now, so there will be a lot more help available,” Grzadzielseski said.

     If the county is granted assistance from the SBA, most nonprofit organizations, small agricultural cooperatives and small businesses might be eligible for recovery loans offering fixed rates as low as 4 percent. These disaster loans would be made available to those seeking to relieve working capital needs affected by the fire. SBA loans would be extended through commercial lenders, with multiple options tailored to fit the needs of each business owner. Information about the SBA loans, eligibility and other resources can be found at www.sba.gov.

     Lending programs may also be offered through Business Lending Solutions, a division of Region IV Development. This nonprofit corporation is licensed by the SBA to administer assistance in the state of Idaho through business lending programs. Region IV can aid in the recovery effort through processing, approving and servicing loans on behalf of the SBA, as well as loans from other lending programs. More information about this organization can be found at www.businesslendingsolutions.org.

     For those seeking consultation and training programs, the College of Southern Idaho’s Small Business Development Center offered coaching services at no cost. The center also provides low-cost training opportunities fit to the needs of the area, in which local business owners can inquire about information regarding credit concerns, business leadership and risk management.

     Small-business owners interested in learning more about the process can find information at www.commerce.idaho.gov, or by contacting Miller at jerry.miller@commerce.idaho.gov.




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