By Gail HM Brown, Ph.D.,
The major, alderpersons and local/area citizens were all attentive to some good news shared at the Goodman, Miss. Board of Alderman’s meeting Tuesday evening. The bearer of the news information was Dorris A. Evans, Public Affairs Specialist for the US Small Business Administration Office of Disaster Assistance Field Operations Center – East.
“I have been all over Holmes County,” Evans said to the Board and the audience regarding the outreach.
Evans shared that Mississippi businesses and residents in Holmes and surrounding affected areas hit by the severe storms, straight-line winds and tornadoes on March 22, 2022, may apply for low-interest disaster loans from the US Small Business Administration.
The announcement was made nationally by SBA Administrator Isabella Casillas Guzman on August 2. Guzman made the loans available in response to a letter from Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves dated July 18, requesting a disaster declaration by the SBA. Businesses and residents in the declared area can now apply for low-interest disaster loans from the SBA.
“We have an agency declaration,” Evans said. The declaration covers Holmes County and the adjacent counties of Attala, Carroll, Humphreys, Leflore, Madison and Yazoo in Mississippi.
She pointed out that Durant Missionary Baptist Church located at 16455 North Jackson Street in Durant, Miss. is the Disaster Loan Outreach Center (DLOC). “If you have suffered a loss, our SBA customer service representatives are there to help you apply at the center until August 18,” she said.
Due to COVID-19, health guidelines are in place according to the SBA release.
When asked about his church being designated the DLOC, Rev. Dr. Nathaniel Christian, pastor of Durant MBC, told The Mississippi Link, “We are super excited about assisting our community in recovering from any disaster. It’s everyday ministry and it gives us an opportunity to be a ‘Matthew 25:25-26’ servant.”
Also according to released information, “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,” said SBA’s Mississippi District Director Janita Stewart.
For small agricultural cooperatives, small businesses engaged in aquaculture, and most private nonprofit organizations, the SBA offers Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDLs) to help meet working capital needs caused by the disaster. Economic Injury Disaster Loan assistance is available regardless of whether the business suffered any physical property damage.
Loans up to $200,000 are available to homeowners to repair or replace damaged or destroyed real estate. Homeowners and renters are eligible for loans up to $40,000 to repair or replace damaged or destroyed personal property,” said Kem Fleming, director of SBA’s Field Operations Center East in Atlanta.
Applicants may be eligible for a loan amount increase of up to 20 percent 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 percent for businesses, 1.875 percent for nonprofit organizations, and 1.438 percent 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.
Evans told the audience at the Goodman meeting that she encourages as many people as possible to take advantage of the assistance while the Durant DLOC is still open. She also urged staying in compliance with all the SBA deadlines.
Residents and business owners are pleased to learn of the assistance. Lucretia Holmes, a Goodman resident, said her town was devastated. “Many people, mostly renters, had to relocate from their damaged apartments wondering where they were going to go,” Holmes said. “So SBA coming to Holmes County with this program will help a lot of renters and homeowners get back to living their lives in a safe place for them and their families.”
Learning of SBA Disaster Assistance and on-the-ground efforts in Holmes County, the Community Students Learning Center (CSLC), the Hub for one of SBA’s Community Navigator Pilot Project (CNPP), connected with Evans via one of its Spokesmen, Henry Luckett of Knowledge Info, LLC, and offered to help Evans spread the word of the outreach via his media contacts and social media platforms. “This is so important that we asked staff members to share the SBA Disaster Loan Assistance press information and fact sheets on their own social media pages,” said CSLC Executive Director Beulah Greer.
“This assistance is critical to getting businesses [and residents] in our communities up and running following the March 22, 2022 disaster,” commented Luckett. “We are thankful that the SBA assistance is a part of the recovery process.”
Applicants may apply online using the Electronic Loan Application (ELA) via SBA’s secure website at DisasterLoanAssistance.sba.gov/ela/s and should apply under SBA declaration # 17539. Disaster loan information and application forms can also be obtained by calling the SBA’s Customer Service Center at 800-659-2955 (if you are deaf, hard of hearing, or have a speech disability, dial 7-1-1 to access telecommunications relay services) or by sending an email to [email protected]
Loan applications can also be downloaded from sba.gov/disaster. Completed applications should be mailed to: US 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 Sept. 30, 2022. The deadline to return economic injury applications is May 1, 2023.