Farmers, small agricultural cooperatives, small businesses and private nonprofit organizations hurt by the severe storms, high winds and tornadoes of late March/early April are eligible to apply for federal low-interest loans.
Whiteside, Lee and Bureau counties, among many others where farmers are seeing production losses this growing season because of the March 31 tornadoes and the bad weather that lasted through April 5, have received federal USDA disaster designations.
The designation allows the USDA Farm Service Agency to provide emergency loans. Farmers in eligible counties have eight months to apply by contacting their local USDA Service Center to file a notice of loss.
Co-ops, small businesses and nonprofits in Lee, Ogle, Whiteside and Bureau counties can apply for low-interest economic injury disaster loans from the Small Business Administration, to help meet working capital needs, the agency said in a news release.
To assist the affected businesses, the SBA is opening a Business Recovery Center in the Lee County Courts building at 309 S. Galena Ave. in Dixon.
The center will be open from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday, then from 9 to 6 Monday through Friday, and from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday. It will close permanently at 4 p.m. Wednesday, July 26.
Customer service representatives will be available to answer questions about the disaster loan program and help business owners complete their applications.
Interest rates are 4% for businesses and 2.375% for nonprofits, with terms of up to 30 years, based on each applicant’s financial condition.
Applicants can apply online at https://disasterloanassistance.sba.gov/ela/s/ under SBA declaration 17983.
Disaster loan information and application forms also are available at 800-659-2955 (or 800-877-8339 for the deaf and hearing-impaired) and at DisasterCustomerService@sba.gov.
Applications also can be downloaded at sba.gov/disaster.
They should be returned to the center or mailed to U.S. Small Business Administration, Processing and Disbursement Center, 14925 Kingsport Road, Fort Worth, TX 76155.
The filing deadline is April 3.
In addition, SBA Administrator Isabella Casillas Guzman recently announced a policy change granting 12 months of no payments and 0 percent interest.
This pertains to all disaster loans approved in response to disasters declared from Sept. 21, 2022, through Sept. 30 of this year.
The change will benefit disaster survivors and help them to decrease the overall cost of recovery by reducing the amount of accrued interest they must repay, according to the release.
Details are available through the SBA Disaster Assistance Customer Service Center at the number above.
Those with verbal or hearing impairments can dial 7-1-1 to access telecommunications relay services from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., Monday to Friday, or email DisasterCustomerService@sba.go.