The U.S. Small Business Administration Thursday began offering federal disaster loans to small businesses economically impacted by the pipeline oil spill off the Southern California coast, and a virtual business recovery center can help in determining eligibility.

According to SBA Administrator Isabella Casillas Guzman, the administration acted under its own authority to declare a disaster in response to a request from Gov. Gavin Newsom’s Office of Emergency Services.

The disaster declaration makes SBA assistance available in Los Angeles, Orange, San Diego, Riverside and San Bernardino counties. The deadline to apply for the loans is July 27.

“SBA’s mission-driven team stands ready to help California small businesses impacted by the pipeline oil spill,” Guzman said.

“We’re committed to providing federal disaster loans swiftly and efficiently, with a customer-centric approach to help businesses and communities recover and rebuild.”

Eligibility is based on the financial impact of the disaster only and not on any actual property damage. These loans have an interest rate of 2.855% for small businesses and 2% for private nonprofit organizations with terms up to 30 years and are restricted to small businesses without the financial ability to offset the adverse impact without hardship.

The oil spill began off the coast near Huntington Beach in Orange County on Oct. 2.

“Small nonfarm businesses, small agricultural cooperatives, small businesses engaged in aquaculture and most private nonprofit organizations of any size may qualify for Economic Injury Disaster Loans of up to $2 million to help meet financial obligations and operating expenses which could have been met had the disaster not occurred,” said Tanya Garfield, director of SBA’s Disaster Field Operations Center-West.

“These loans may be used to pay fixed debts, payroll, accounts payable and other bills that can’t be paid because of the disaster’s impact,” she said. “Disaster loans can provide vital economic assistance to small businesses to help overcome the temporary loss of revenue they are experiencing.”

Sen. Alex Padilla, D-Calif., applauded the SBA’s announcement of low-interest federal disaster loans.

“I want to thank SBA Administrator Guzman for providing federal assistance to small businesses that have been impacted by the oil spill,” he said. “Small businesses continue to face the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, and now many in Southern California are also feeling the impact of the oil spill. I will continue working to ensure accountability for this spill — and to prevent future spills.”

Applicants for the loans may apply online, receive additional disaster assistance information and download applications at disasterloanassistance.sba.gov/.

Applicants may also call SBA’s Customer Service Center at 800-659-2955 or email disastercustomerservice@sba.gov for more information on SBA disaster assistance.

Individuals who are deaf, or people with hearing loss, may call 800-877-8339.

Completed applications should be mailed to U.S. Small Business Administration, Processing and Disbursement Center, 14925 Kingsport Road, Fort Worth, Texas, 76155.

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