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Florida drought prompts SBA disaster loans

The U.S. Small Business Administration has made federal economic injury disaster loans available to small businesses, small agricultural cooperatives, small businesses engaged in aquaculture, and most private non-profit organizations of all sizes located in Florida as a result of the drought that began January 1, 2011.

The SBA’s disaster declaration includes the following Northeast Florida counties: Baker, Clay, Columbia, Duval, Nassau, Putnam, Saint Johns, Suwannee, and Union.  Businesses in these counties can also turn to the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at the University of North Florida for technical advice and assistance with business continuity planning.

Under this declaration, the SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan program is available to eligible farm-related and nonfarm-related entities that suffered financial losses as a direct result of this disaster. With the exception of aquacultural enterprises, agricultural producers, farmers and ranchers are not eligible to apply to SBA, but nurseries are eligible to apply for EIDLs for losses caused by drought conditions.

The loan amount can be up to $2 million with interest rates of 3 percent for private non-profit organizations of all sizes and 4 percent for small businesses, with terms up to 30 years.  The SBA determines eligibility based on the size of the applicant, type of activity and its financial resources.  Loan amounts and terms are set by the SBA and are based on each applicant’s financial condition.  These working capital loans may be used to pay fixed debts, payroll, accounts payable, and other bills that could have been paid had the disaster not occurred.  These loans are not intended to replace lost sales or profits.

Disaster loan information and application forms may be obtained by calling the SBA’s Customer Service Center at 800-659-2955 (800-877-8339 for the hearing-impaired) or by sending an e-mail to  Loan applications can be downloaded from the SBA’s Web site at  Completed applications should be mailed to: U.S. Small Business Administration, Processing and Disbursement Center, 14925 Kingsport Road, Fort Worth, TX 76155.  Completed loan applications must be returned to SBA no later than December 5, 2011.

For disaster mitigation and/or business continuity assistance, contact the SBDC at UNF at (904) 620-2476 or go to

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