As of March 20 the coronavirus officially became a disaster in the eyes of the government. That means that small businesses, many of which have no income during the anti-coronavirus lockdown, are able to apply for disaster loans from the federal Small Business Administration to stay afloat. Nonprofits as well as for-profit businesses can apply for disaster loans.

As of press time, the state had passed a series of bills intending to help workers and businesses affected by the lockdown. Governor Phil Murphy has also applied for disaster relief block grants, which may in the future allow businesses to receive grants rather than loans to cover expenses during the pandemic emergency.

The state provided the following guide for applying for financial assistance from the Small Business Administration.

All New Jersey counties are now approved for federal disaster assistance, making New Jersey businesses eligible to apply for Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDLs). These are working capital loans to help small businesses, small agricultural cooperatives, small businesses engaged in aquaculture, and most private, non-profit organizations meet their ordinary and necessary financial obligations that cannot be met as a direct result of the disaster. These loans are intended to assist through the disaster recovery period.

Eligiblity: New Jersey-based small businesses or private non-profit organizations must have sustained economic injury, as well as being located in a disaster-declared county or contiguous county, which all New Jersey counties currently are.

Credit History: Applicants must have a credit history acceptable to SBA.

Repayment: Applicants must show the ability to repay the loan.

Collateral: Collateral is required for all EIDL loans over $25,000. SBA takes real estate as collateral when it is available.

SBA will not decline a loan for lack of collateral, but SBA will require the borrower to pledge collateral that is available.

Interest Rates: The interest rate is determined by formulas set by law and is fixed for the life of the loan. The maximum interest rate for this program is 3.75 percent.

Loan Terms: The law authorizes loan terms up to a maximum of 30 years. SBA will determine an appropriate installment payment based on the financial condition of each borrower, which in turn will determine the loan term.

Loan Amount: The law limits EIDLs to $2,000,000 for alleviating economic injury caused by the disaster. The actual amount of each loan is limited to the economic injury determined by SBA, less business interruption insurance and other recoveries up to the administrative lending limit. SBA also considers potential contributions that are available from the business and/or its owner(s) or affiliates.

Application Process: Applicants may apply online, receive additional disaster assistance information and download applications at disasterloan.sba.gov/ela.

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 hard-of-hearing 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, TX 76155

Technical Assistance for Applying for SBA EIDL Loans: The State of New Jersey is currently developing plans to offer technical assistance to businesses that wish to apply for SBA disaster loans. As new information about these resources become available, it will be posted at the NJ Business Action Center website, www.nj.gov/njbusiness.

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