Small businesses in Los Angeles County are now eligible to apply for low-interest federal disaster loans of up to $2 million to offset losses caused by the drought, it was announced Wednesday.

The U.S. Small Business Administration loans are designed for non-farm businesses, agricultural cooperatives and various businesses.

Eligibility is based on the financial impact of the disaster and not on property damage. The loans — which have an interest rate of 4 percent for businesses and 2.6 percent for private nonprofit organizations, anf a maximum term of 30 years — are available to small businesses and most private nonprofits without the financial ability to offset the adverse impact without hardship.

“We continue to partner with the SBA as it has provided low-income loans to Los Angeles County small businesses to aid them in recovering and most importantly reducing their economic losses caused by this severe drought,” said Office of Emergency Management Director Jeff Reeb.

Small businesses and most private nonprofit organizations of any size may qualify for the Economic Injury Disaster Loans to help meet financial obligations and operating expenses which could have been met had the disaster not occurred.

“SBA eligibility covers both the economic impacts on businesses dependent on farmers and ranchers that have suffered agricultural production losses caused by disaster and businesses directly impacted by the disaster,” said Tanya N. Garfield, the SBA’s director of disaster field operations, west.

Businesses primarily engaged in farming or ranching are not eligible for SBA disaster assistance.

Agricultural enterprises should contact the Farm Services Agency about U.S. Department of Agriculture assistance. However, in drought disasters, nurseries are eligible for SBA disaster assistance.

City News Service

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