West Slope businesses eligible for disaster loans

Small businesses in four Western Colorado counties, including Mesa County, are eligible for a federal loans to help offset losses related to drought conditions.

Alfred Judd, director of the U.S. Small Business Administration disaster field operations center in  the West, announced the availability of loans to businesses in Delta County as well as Gunnison, Mesa and Montrose counties. The low-interest loans are designed to offset losses caused by drought conditions in Delta County  that started at the beginning of this year.

“SBA eligibility covers both the economic impacts on businesses dependent on farmers and ranchers that have suffered agricultural production losses caused by the disaster and businesses directly impacted by the disaster,” Judd said.

Nonfarm businesses; agricultural cooperatives; small businesses engaged in aquaculture; and most private, nonprofit organizations of any size may qualify for Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDLs) of up to $2 million to help meet financial obligations and operating expenses which could have been met had the disaster not occurred. The deadline to apply for the loans is March 12.

“Eligibility for these loans is based on the financial impact of the disaster only and not on any actual property damage. These loans have an interest rate of 4 percent for businesses and 3 percent for private, nonprofit organizations, a maximum term of 30 years and are available to small businesses and most private nonprofits without the financial ability to offset the adverse impact without  hardship,” Judd said.

By law, the SBA makes EIDLs available when the U. S. Secretary of Agriculture designates an agricultural disaster. Tom Vilsack declared this disaster at the request of Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper.

Businesses primarily engaged in farming or ranching are not eligible for SBA disaster assistance. Agricultural enterprises  should contact the Farm Service Agency (FSA) about Department of Agriculture assistance made available by the disaster declaration. In the case of droughts, nurseries are eligible for SBA disaster assistance, however.