The U.S. Small Business Administration Business Recovery Office in Jackson, Miss., is open for the rest of this week to help small businesses and nonprofit organizations affected by the latest Jackson water crisis apply for working capital loans. The online portal remains open until June 14, 2023.
After earlier announcing that the office, located beside the Jackson City Hall (201 S. President Street) would close on Sept. 30, 2022, it’s now scheduled for closure at 4 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 7, 2022, the agency said in a media briefing on Sept. 30, 2022. Small businesses and nonprofit organizations affected by the Jackson water crisis that began Aug. 30, 2022, can benefit from low-interest loans payable for up to 30 years.
The SBA’s Public Affairs Lead for the loan program, Leslie Hill, told the Mississippi Free Press on the phone on Oct. 3, 2022, that the extension will allow more businesses to respond.
“We only have one business recovery center, (therefore) it’s an opportunity for people in the contiguous counties to come and apply,” he said.
Along with Hinds County, businesses and nonprofits in the following counties are eligible to apply if they suffered economic losses due to the water crisis: Claiborne, Copiah, Madison, Rankin, Simpson, Warren and Yazoo counties.
In the statement announcing the extension, SBA Field Operations Center East Director Kem Fleming encouraged “anyone who hasn’t finished their disaster loan application to come to the center before it closes and meet with an SBA customer service representative for one-on-one help.”
Other Offices Offering Assistance Until June 2023
Hill said that the Small Business Development Center and Women Business Center, both at Jackson State University, are also offering assistance to applicants beyond Friday. “They’re helping individuals complete their applications if they are unable to get into the business recovery center,” he said. According to their websites, both offices get funding from the U.S. Small Business Administration and partner with the agency.
The Mississippi Small Business Development Center has 20 locations around the state, one of which is at Jackson State University.
Those applying for the loan should provide their financial information and show the impact of the water crisis on their businesses, Jackson State University Small Business Development Center Director Rickey Jones told the Mississippi Free Press in his office on Oct. 4, 2022.
“The current water situation has had an impact on small businesses, particularly small businesses that operate (with a single owner) but have multiple employees,” he said. “In most cases, employees may have had to take off because their children were out of school, as one business owner explained to me.”
“A lot of our restaurants had to be very creative as they had to bring in water in some cases or pay for water to be able to operate their facilities,” he added.
Women Business Center Director Sydney Brown said the June 2023 deadline to return the application is “because small business owners may not realize the impact that the water crisis had on their business until months down the road.”
In an interview with the Mississippi Free Press in his office on Oct. 4, 2022, Brown said that the assistance the office provides applicants includes guiding them through the process, identifying supporting documents, and answering their questions.
Jones, the Small Business Development Center director, said payments are not due for five months once approved.
He also wanted to “stress to business owners” that if they are initially denied, they should “find out what was lacking” or needed to continue the process “because it may have been a clarification on when they were impacted, how they were impacted, and so on, that needs additional information.”
About 175 Businesses Assisted In Two Weeks
Hill told the Mississippi Free Press that the Business Recovery Office assisted about 175 small businesses and nonprofits in its first two weeks, and more than half of them are in processing. Some might start getting the loans as soon as this month.
“So right now, 65% of them are looking to be moved and approved,” he said.
“It usually takes two to three weeks for the application process, then after you’ll get the approval and you can move on to disbursement; checks are disbursed shortly thereafter,” Hill added. “So the turnaround time is less than 30 days—full, complete disbursement turnaround time.”
The disaster loan terms include a 3.04% interest rate for businesses and 1.875% rate for nonprofit organizations, with terms up to 30 years.
SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loans can provide Jackson businesses with up to $2 million to “help meet financial obligations and operating expenses that could have been met had the disaster not occurred,” the agency’s website says. It can waive that limit if “a business is a major source of employment,” SBA said. The loan amount is based on “actual economic injury” and the company’s financial needs.
The organization provides options for the deaf and hard-of-hearing to call 800-877-2955 for assistance. Others should contact the SBA’s Customer Service Center at 800-659-2955. Loan applications can be downloaded at sba.gov/disaster, and completed applications should be returned to the center or mailed to the U.S. Small Business Administration, Processing and Disbursement Center at 14925 Kingsport Road, Fort Worth, TX, 76155.
See the Mississippi Free Press’ full Jackson water-crisis coverage, starting in March 2021.