The U.S. Small Business Administration announced Thursday the availability of Disaster Loans to small businesses in counties throughout North Georgia which have been impacted by the ongoing drought throughout the region.
The Federal Economic Injury Disaster Loans are available to small businesses, small agricultural cooperatives, small businesses engaged in aquaculture and most private nonprofit organizations with losses due to the drought conditions that began on Oct. 31.
According to data released Thursday by the U.S. Drought Monitor, the vast majority of north Georgia was experiencing a moderate drought, including Hall, Jackson, Banks, Forsyth and Barrow counties. Counties to the far north were under severe and extreme droughts, with the northwestern corner of the state under an exceptional drought.
Additionally, Lake Lanier was at nearly 7.70 feet below full pool as of Friday morning.
The Disaster Loan Program declaration includes Bartow, Cherokee, Dawson, Fannin, Floyd, Gilmer, Gordon, Lumpkin, Murray, Pickens, and Whitfield; the contiguous counties of Catoosa, Chattooga, Cobb, Forsyth, Fulton, Hall, Paulding, Polk, Union, Walker and White in Georgia; Cherokee County in Alabama; Cherokee County in North Carolina; and Bradley, Hamilton and Polk counties in Tennessee.
“Working capital loans from the SBA are essential to eligible small businesses when the Secretary of Agriculture declares a disaster due to farmers’ crop losses,” said Francisco Sanchez Jr., associate administrator of SBA’s Office of Disaster Recovery & Resilience. “These loans help sustain rural economies when a disaster occurs.”
A release from the U.S. Small Business Administration said the program is available to farm-related and nonfarm-related entities that have suffered financial losses as a direct result of this disaster. Apart from aquaculture enterprises, SBA cannot provide disaster loans to agricultural producers, farmers, and ranchers. Nurseries are eligible to apply for economic injury disaster loans for losses caused by drought conditions.
The loan amount can be up to $2 million with interest rates of 4% for small businesses and 3.25% for private nonprofit organizations, with terms up to 30 years. Interest does not accrue and payments are not due until 12 months from the date of the first loan disbursement.
"Eligibility is based on the size of the applicant, type of activity and its financial resources," the release said. "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. The loans are not intended to replace lost sales or profits."
Applicants may apply online using the Electronic Loan Application via the SBA’s secure website at sba.gov/disaster and should apply under SBA declaration # 20084.
Disaster loan information and application forms may also be obtained by calling the SBA’s Customer Service Center at 800-659-2955 (if you are deaf, hard of hearing, or have a speech disability, please dial 7-1-1 to access telecommunications relay services), or sending an email to
[email protected]. Loan applications can be downloaded from the SBA’s website at sba.gov/disaster. Completed applications should be mailed to: U.S. Small Business Administration, Processing and Disbursement Center, 14925 Kingsport Road, Fort Worth, TX 76155.
Submit completed loan applications to the SBA no later than July 8, 2024.