Disaster Assistance Available

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Small, non-farm businesses in 15 Arizona counties may now apply for low-interest disaster loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). These disaster loans offset economic losses because of reduced revenues caused by drought, beginning Jan. 1, 2007, announced Alfred E. Judd, director of SBA's Disaster Field Operations Center-West.

Small businesses in the following primary and neighboring counties may apply: Apache, Cochise, Coconino, Gila, Graham, Greenlee, Maricopa, Mohave, Navajo, Pima, Pinal, Santa Cruz and Yavapai; and the neighboring counties of La Paz and Yuma.

Small businesses may qualify for Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDLs) of up to $1.5 million to help meet financial obligations and operating expenses that could have been met, had the disaster not occurred.

"Eligibility for these loans is based on the financial impact of the disaster only and not on any actual property damage. These loans have an interest rate of 4 percent, a maximum term of 30 years, and are restricted to small businesses without the financial ability to offset the adverse impact without hardship," Judd said.

By law, SBA makes EIDLs available when the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture designates an agricultural disaster. Secretary Mike Johanns declared this disaster at the request of Gov. Janet Napolitano.

Businesses primarily engaged in farming or ranching are not eligible for SBA disaster assistance. Agricultural enterprises should contact the Farm Services Agency (FSA) about the U. S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) assistance made available by the Secretary's declaration. However, in drought disasters, nurseries are eligible for SBA disaster assistance.

For information and application forms, call toll-free (800) 659-2955, or visit SBA's website at www.sba.gov/services/disasterassistance. Hearing-impaired individuals may call (800) 877-8339.

The deadline to apply for these loans is May 6, 2008.

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