By Ryan Velez
In a previous article, we mentioned that the Houston area had become a hotbed for Black business, a status that was under threat following the devastation Hurricane Harvey has brought. As a business owner, you are likely used to setbacks, though likely not anything brought on by nature. However, recovery is recovery, and Black Enterprise recently put out an article on the SBA’s disaster loan program, and how you can get help.
The first step to getting in on the program is figuring out if you are eligible. Since 1958, the Small Business Association has provided loans and funds for small business, but different programs and funding are suited for different businesses in different situations. The SBA keeps an updated list of all eligible disaster areas in its database, where you will find Presidential and SBA agency declared disasters, as well as those declared by the Agriculture Department. Drought, flooding, and tropical storms are among the most common.
As a note, the application process is long and not every disaster is covered. If you don’t see your situation covered but feel that it is a match, contact local officials to see if they have started the process for disaster declaration. Another potential option is petitioning the White House directly for disaster approval through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
At this point, you can get started on obtaining the loans. For the most part, they are only for business expenses, with one exception— a disaster loan option for homeowners and renters (no business holdings required) that caps at $200,000. There is also a program available to help with times of economic loss for businesses.
You’ll need the following items to fill out your application:
• Business’s legal name, ownership details (including SSNs for owners), address and contact information
• Documentation of type and scope of damages
• Tax filing records
• Profit and loss statements
• Listings of assets and depreciation records
As a note, when deciding whether to approve the loan, the SBA will check several things including your business credit history and even potentially personal credit history. They will also inspect the business property to estimate the value of damages. After insurance coverage and the applicant’s eligibility are reviewed, a loan offer will be made to qualified business owners within 2-3 weeks from the application date. The good news though is that after approval, an initial disbursement can be made within five days.