The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) is strengthening its efforts to support businesses and residents affected by the Maui wildfires. Currently, the SBA has approved a massive sum of over $139 million in federal disaster loans aimed at rebuilding and recovery efforts in Hawaii.
This financial injection comes at a critical time for many. Small businesses, especially in the community of Lahaina, have been severely impacted not only by the wildfires but also by a decrease in tourism resulting from the disaster. For many small business owners in the region, this support can make the difference between closure and resurgence.
Breaking down the numbers, businesses have been granted $40,620,400, while residents have received a considerable amount of $98,615,000. This gesture from the SBA is more than just numbers; it signifies a commitment to the recovery of the affected communities. U.S. Small Business Administrator Isabella Casillas Guzman remarked, “The SBA, as a part of President Biden’s whole-of-government approach, has committed support to ensure the community of Lahaina can recover after the devastating fires, and SBA’s current level of disaster assistance loan approvals demonstrates that commitment.”
The Scope and Details of the Loan Program
Beyond simply providing loans, the SBA has taken a proactive approach to ensure applicants understand the process. They have deployed teams to various Disaster Recovery Centers, SBA Business Recovery Centers, and more to guide applicants through the loan program.
Here’s what small business owners need to know:
- Eligibility: Businesses of all sizes and private nonprofit organizations can access loans up to $2 million for repairing or replacing assets affected by the wildfires, including real estate, machinery, equipment, and inventory.
- Economic Injury Disaster Loans: For small businesses and most nonprofits, there’s an added provision for loans to support working capital needs due to the disaster. Importantly, this is available even if the business hasn’t experienced any property damage.
- Interest Rates & Repayment: The SBA is offering interest rates of 4 percent for businesses, 2.375 percent for private nonprofit organizations, and 2.5 percent for homeowners and renters. The loans come with terms up to 30 years, tailored to each applicant’s financial situation. Additionally, repayment doesn’t commence until 12 months after the first disbursement.
Next Steps for Affected Small Businesses
Small Business Deals
For businesses and residents in Maui County who’ve experienced property damage, it’s essential to register with the Federal Emergency Management Agency by the November 9, 2023 deadline. Furthermore, economic injury loan applications for small businesses and nonprofits can be submitted in all Hawaiian counties till May 10, 2024.
Those looking to apply or get more details can visit the SBA’s dedicated page at www.sba.gov/hawaii-wildfires. Alternatively, they can contact the SBA’s Customer Service Center directly.
In these challenging times, the SBA’s comprehensive support illustrates a clear federal commitment to help communities bounce back. For small business owners navigating the aftermath of the Maui wildfires, this disaster assistance is a lifeline for recovery and future resilience.