Garfield County small businesses eligible for COVID-19 loans
Businesses and nonprofit organizations suffering from the coronavirus prevention measures can now apply for disaster relief grants from the federal government.
Garfield County businesses, along with the rest of the state, that have been harmed by the COVID-19 pandemic are now eligible for the Economic Disaster Injury loan program from the Small Business Administration.
“This loan program is what we traditionally use to respond to communities in natural disasters, such as wildfire, floods, tornadoes. Just over a week and a half ago, Congress gave us the authority to utilize this program to help small businesses who have been adversely impacted by coronavirus,” said Dan Nordberg, regional administrator for the Small Business Administration during a telephone town hall organized by Colorado Rep. Scott Tipton.
The loans offer up to $2 million to qualifying small businesses, or those with under 500 employees.
“These loans can be used to pay fixed debts, payroll, accounts payable and other bills that couldn’t be paid because of the disaster’s impact,” Nordberg said.
The interest rate for businesses is 3.75 percent, and 2.75 percent for nonprofits. The maximum length for repayment is 30 years, Nordberg said.
While private nonprofit entities are eligible for disaster loans, religious and charitable organizations do not qualify for the program.
“Our first and foremost priority is making sure businesses can survive during this challenging time. As we all know, many small businesses are not prepared for closures especially for the durations that are being prescribed at this time,” Nordberg said.
The application can be found at sba.gov/disaster. During the telephone town hall, a Rifle resident asked why the website wasn’t working.
“We are, as you can imagine, dealing with some high volume on the website right now, and ask for your patience,” Nordberg said in response.
Although it took a while to load, the site appeared to be working Friday afternoon.
Reporters were not allowed to ask questions during the call.
The small business disaster loans don’t directly aid non-business owners who lost their jobs due to COVID-19 shutdowns.
Tipton said the congress is considering additional legislation, but has already increased eligibility for unemployment.
“There’s going to be some further assistance in the bill that we did pass that the president signed. There was expanded unemployment benefits,” Tipton said.
That included extensions for people who are unable to work due to caring for someone who is sick, or who was unable to work remotely during the closures, Tipton said.
Tipton also mentioned that Congress is considering another COVID-19 response bill, which reportedly could offer direct cash assistance to people in the U.S.
Tipton also said that though the pandemic has already affected people around the country, we have not yet seen the worst of the outbreak.
“The next few weeks are going to be pivotal in determining how drastic the effects of this outbreak are going to have on our way of life, and how quickly we are going to recover — and we will recover,” Tipton said.
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