SBA Offers Financial Aid to Drought-Hit Illinois and Wisconsin Small Businesses


Small businesses and certain nonprofits in drought-stricken parts of Illinois and Wisconsin are set to receive a lifeline in the form of Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDLs). The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) has declared that such assistance will be available for entities suffering economic hardships due to the severe droughts beginning June 13, 2023, in Illinois and August 1, 2023, in Wisconsin.

For Illinois, the declaration encompasses the primary counties of Fulton, Mason, and Tazewell, as well as the adjoining counties of Cass, Knox, Logan, McDonough, McLean, Menard, Peoria, Schuyler, Warren, and Woodford. Wisconsin’s affected primary counties include Burnett, Sawyer, and Washburn, the contiguous counties of Ashland, Barron, Bayfield, Douglas, Polk, Price, and Rusk, and the neighboring Minnesota counties of Chisago and Pine.

This move by the SBA follows the Secretary of Agriculture’s disaster declaration to aid farmers who have incurred damages and losses to their crops. Kem Fleming, director of SBA’s Field Operations Center East, highlighted the synergy between the two bodies, explaining that when one aids farmers, the other supports businesses affected by the same disaster.

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The EIDL program encompasses farm-related and non-farm-related businesses. However, potential applicants must note that while nurseries are eligible for these loans due to drought-induced losses, agricultural producers, farmers, and ranchers are not covered, barring those in aquaculture.

Loans offered can reach amounts of up to $2 million. Small businesses will see interest rates at 4 percent, while private nonprofit organizations can secure loans at 2.375 percent. The terms can extend to 30 years, and each application’s loan amounts and terms are individually determined based on the applicant’s financial condition. These loans cater to working capital needs, allowing businesses to address fixed debts, payroll, accounts payable, and other bills. However, they aren’t designed to compensate for lost sales or profits.

The SBA has provisioned an Electronic Loan Application (ELA) on its secure website to streamline the application process. Illinois-based applicants should reference the SBA declaration #18054, while those in Wisconsin need to mention #18058 during the application.

The SBA offers disaster loan information and application forms through their Customer Service Center to further support potential applicants. They’ve also made provisions for individuals with hearing and speech disabilities. The deadline for submitting completed loan applications is April 8, 2024.

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With small businesses being the backbone of the economy, they must have access to the necessary resources to weather natural disasters. These EIDLs signify a move in the right direction, ensuring that the spirit of entrepreneurship remains resilient even in the face of environmental challenges.

This assistance could be the difference between keeping their doors open or shutting down for small business owners grappling with the impacts of these droughts. As climate-related challenges mount, measures like these underscore the importance of systemic support.

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