PROVIDENCE, RI (WPRI) Dozens of small businesses in Rhode Island face financial hardship, or worse, as the state takes drastic action to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.
In an effort to help struggling businesses stay afloat, Governor Gina Raimondo announced on Tuesday that the Small Business Administration (SBA) had granted her request for a disaster declaration, which means low interest loans of up to $ 2 million will be available for small local businesses.
Additionally, Raimondo said she has contacted Microsoft and the company has agreed to provide Office free to businesses in Rhode Island for the next six months. This includes telecommunications and web resources for those whose employees work remotely. Learn more “
The statement comes after Raimondo ordered all food and beverage services closed until at least March 30. She also limited the size of the crowd to 25 people or less.
The restrictions have forced some companies to lay off most of their employees or shut down altogether.
Mark Hayward, director of the Small Business Administration of Rhode Island, told Eyewitness News that the statement applies to any small business that has been financially affected by COVID-19 since January 31.
He said the SBA was doing everything in its power to prevent these businesses from closing.
“What we’re trying to do is anything and everything we can to keep the small businesses up and running, and when I say up and running we realize that everyone is closed, but they have payments that need to be fulfilled and we want to make sure we can do whatever we can, ”said Hayward.
Hayward said concerned business owners are more than welcome to seek advice from the SBA.
“Look, these are times we’ve never seen before. It’s extremely unusual, ”said Hayward. “The opportunities will continue, we will survive, and we will do all we can to help small businesses survive.”
Here is the full text of the SBA announcement on Tuesday:
The US Small Business Administration offers low-interest federal disaster working capital loans to Rhode Island small businesses suffering substantial economic damage from the coronavirus (COVID-19), SBA Administrator Jovita Carranza announced today. The SBA acted on its own authority, as provided for in the President’s recently signed Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplementary Appropriations Act, to declare a disaster following a request received from Governor Gina M. Raimondo March 16, 2020.
The claim makes SBA support available statewide. Rhode Island; and the contiguous counties of New London and Windham in Connecticut; and Bristol, Norfolk and Worcester in Massachusetts.
“SBA is strongly committed to providing the most effective, customer-focused response possible to assist Rhode Island small businesses with federal disaster loans. We will be swift in our efforts to help these small businesses recover from the financial impacts of the coronavirus (COVID-19), ”Administrator Carranza said.
SBA Customer Service Representatives will be available to answer questions about the SBA Economic Disaster Loan Program and explain the application process.
“Small businesses, private non-profit organizations of any size, small agricultural cooperatives and small aquaculture businesses that have been financially affected as a direct result of the coronavirus (COVID-19) since January 31, 2020, may be eligible for an economic disaster. Loans of up to $ 2 million to help meet financial obligations and operating expenses that might have been covered had the disaster not occurred, ”Carranza said.
“These loans can be used to pay fixed debts, salaries, accounts payable and other bills that cannot be paid due to the impact of the disaster. Disaster loans can provide vital economic assistance to small businesses to help them overcome the temporary loss of income they suffer, ”added Carranza.
Eligibility for economic disaster loans is based on the financial impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19). The interest rate is 3.75% for small businesses. The interest rate for private non-profit organizations is 2.75%. SBA offers loans with long-term repayments to keep payments affordable, up to a maximum of 30 years, and are available to entities without the financial capacity to offset the negative impact without difficulty.
“The SBA district office here in Rhode Island will do everything in its power to ensure that small businesses affected by the coronavirus have access to loans in the event of an economic disaster,” said Mark S. Hayward, director district of the SBA. “I encourage all relevant businesses or non-profit organizations to visit www.SBA.gov/disaster to confirm eligibility and start the loan process. You risk nothing by applying and don’t have to take out the loan if it is approved, but in the event that you need those funds, applying could be the difference between keeping your small business afloat or close the doors.
Applicants can apply online, receive additional information about disaster assistance, and download applications at https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela. Applicants can also call the SBA Customer Service Center at (800) 659-2955 or send an email [email protected] for more information on SBA Disaster Assistance. People who are deaf or hard of hearing can call (800) 877-8339. Completed applications should be mailed to US Small Business Administration, Processing and Disbursement Center, 14925 Kingsport Road, Fort Worth, TX 76155.
The deadline to apply for an economic disaster loan is December 17, 2020.