Whether Hurricane Harvey caused physical damage or a loss of business income, financial assistance is available from the U.S. Small Business Administration.
Most counties in the path of Hurricane Harvey have been declared disaster areas, which makes many Coastal Bend businesses eligible to apply for help.
“We don’t want business owners to think they are in this by themselves,” said Joe Humphreys, University of Houston-Victoria Small Business Development Center director.
The UHV SBDC is helping business owners from an 11 county region apply for SBA Disaster Loans. The SBA has declared Aransas, Bee, Calhoun, DeWitt, Goliad, Gonzales, Jackson, Karnes, Lavaca, Refugio and Victoria counties as disaster areas.
Individuals owning rental property also can apply. For businesses with existing SBA loans, payment deferrals are available if requested.
The first step is to register with the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The second step is registering for assistance from the SBA. UHV SBDC advisors can help with the paperwork and documentation required to complete the SBA application for assistance. The SBA will assign a loan officer and a loss verification assessor to each business.
“Without business records, it can be daunting to prove where your business was and how your business was doing,” Humphreys said. “The physical damage is very obvious in most cases. Some of the financial aspects, in particular, projecting economic injury – the loss of revenue and customers – can be challenging.”
SBDC advisors are traveling to each of the 11 counties to talk with business owners and lend a hand. Business owners also can get in touch with the SBDC by calling 361-485-4485, emailing email@example.com or visiting the SBDC office on the fourth floor of Victoria Tower, 1908 N. Laurent St.
“It is recommended that businesses go ahead and apply for a FEMA number and SBA assistance now,” Humphreys said. “There will be situations where businesses appear to be all right financially short term but could use assistance down the road.”
The SBA offers a business physical disaster loan to repair and replace disaster-damaged property. This includes real estate, inventories, supplies, machinery and equipment. The application deadline is Oct. 24.
The SBA also offers an economic injury disaster loan to provide working capital to meet financial obligations that can’t be met otherwise because of the hurricane. May 25 is the deadline for applying for economic injury.
“If your building is up but your employees aren’t back or your customer base is decimated, then you can get help for economic injury,” Humphreys said. “If your revenue is going to decline sharply, the SBA can provide working capital to help keep employees in place and the business afloat.”
Business owners can apply for assistance at a Disaster Recovery Center or online at SBA.gov. Disaster Recovery Centers already are set up in several area towns.
The Victoria County center is at the Pattie Dobson Public Health Department, 2805 N. Navarro St. The Calhoun County center is at the Calhoun Public Library, 200 W. Market St. in Port Lavaca. The Goliad County center is at the Goliad Memorial Auditorium, 925 S. U.S. Highway 183, and the Jackson County center is at the Edna High School football stadium, 1303 W. Gayle St. The Aransas center in Rockport is located at Women’s Club of Aransas County, 1104 Concho St. Call the SBA Disaster Assistance Customer Service Center at 800-659-2955 for help locating other centers.
Humphreys said the key is to get started. The more complete the paperwork is, the faster it can be processed. He said businesses’ current credit history will be looked at, not just the credit score.
“The SBDC is in this for the long-term success of the business,” he said. “We encourage having an ongoing relationship with a business advisor to grow your business.”
Another opportunity to learn about business disaster assistance will occur Tuesday in Yoakum. The Yoakum Economic Development Corp. will host “After the Storm” from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Yoakum City Hall, 808 U.S. Highway 77A S.
Speakers at the event will include John Frederick, an SBA public information officer, and Ches Bostick, a licensed public insurance adjuster and appraiser. The cost is $10, and lunch is included.
To RSVP, call 361-293-6321 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.