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If your small business has suffered economic losses because of the current coronavirus pandemic, you may be eligible to receive a special low-interest loan from the U.S.Small Business Administration (SBA).

The SBA is authorized to loan up to $2 million to qualified small businesses at an interest rate of 3.75%.

The Citrus County Chamber of Commerce and Nature Coast Florida SCORE have joined forces to assist business owners applying for the loan and will make appointments to meet with applicants. 

 

Jim Green, treasurer and workshop chairman for Nature Coast Florida SCORE, said these are working capital loans for business owners to use for a variety of purposes, including making payroll and buying inventory.

 

Green said he will be taking appointments and will meet with interested people starting March 23 at the chamber office at 915 U.S. 19 in Crystal River.

 

“This is the federal government’s way to get funds into the hands of small-business owners as quickly as possible to help them through this crisis,” Green said.

Owners can start the process by emailing Ardath Prendergast, the chamber’s manager of operations and communications, at ardath@citruscountychamber.com.

Prendergast said she wants business owners to know the chamber is there for them and will listen to their concerns and receive accurate information about available financial help.

“What we’re trying to do is make sure the chamber remains a resource where they can go for good information, learn what their options are for potential emergency loans and what they can do to help their employees out,” Prendergast said.

Prendergast said there are new loan programs coming out seemingly daily and that’s why it’s important to stay in touch with the chamber. Staff is working virtually through their computers from home, but can arrange to meet a business owner at the office by appointment.

“We’re going to be there for them to do whatever we can,” she said.

For the latest financial information, visit https://www.citruscountychamber.com/

 

Here are the particulars of the SBA loan:

 

Eligibility Requirements

  • Credit History acceptable to the SBA.

  • Repayment — SBA determines that you have the capability to repay the loan.

  • Physical Location must have a physical location in Florida.

How much can I borrow?

  • Eligible entities may qualify for loans up to $2 million.

  • The interest rates for this disaster are 3 75% for small businesses and 2 75% for nonprofit organizations with terms up to 30 years.

How can I use the loan funds?

  • These working capital loans may be used to pay fixed debts, payroll, accounts payable and other bills that could have been paid had the disaster not occurred. 

  • The loans are not intended to replace lost sales or profits or for expansion.

What are the collateral requirements?

  • Economic Injury Disaster Loans over $25,000 require collateral.

  • SBA takes real estate as collateral when it is available.

  • SBA will not decline a loan for lack of collateral, but requires borrowers to pledge what is available.

  • No collateral required for loans under $25,000.

What Information Is Required to Apply?

  • You will be sent a summary of all the information needed to successfully complete the EIDL Application.

Other resources available small-business owners:

  • Nature Coast Florida SCORE says all in-person events are suspended and in-person workshops rescheduled, cancelled, or held online until further notice. However, online support is still there to help business owners.

          

Mentors are available to participate via phone, email and video. If you already have a SCORE mentor, ask if you can use a remote mentoring method for your sessions. If you don’t have a mentor, visit https://citruscounty.score.org/find-mentor-10.

  • The Small Business Administration (SBA) has posted information regarding loan programs and guidance for businesses. This information can be found at https://www.sba.gov.

  • The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) has issued COVID-19 guidance for businesses and is updating them as new developments occur. For information, visit  cdc.gov.

  • The state has a short-time compensation program to help employers retain their employees during this work slowdown by encouraging job sharing, rather than a total layoff of an employee.

           

The program permits pro-rated reemployment assistance benefits to employees whose work hours and earnings are reduced as part of a short-time compensation plan to avoid total layoff of some employees.

For information, visit FDEO Short Time Compensation Program for Employers.

 

And in the event that employers can't retain employees, the latter can apply for disaster unemployment assistance.

Contact Chronicle reporter Michael D. Bates at 352-563-3205 or mbates@chronicleonline.com.

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