Northlanders Getting Boost from Federal Low-Interest Loans

By KBJR News 1

August 1, 2012 Updated Aug 1, 2012 at 10:18 PM CDT

Duluth, MN (Northland's NewsCenter) - 90% of the Minnesota Ballet's props, and other inventory, were either damaged or destroyed by June's flood—an expensive fix, especially since the cost to rebuild each prop is more than what initially went into it.

"We have to wait for the artist to come in, and give an estimate to see what's ruined," said Robert Gardner, Artistic Director for the Minnesota Ballet.

...a timely procedure that is only lengthened by waiting for insurance estimates, but there's hope for the non–profit, along with other businesses, homeowners and renters, in the form of a low–interest loan offered by the U.S. Small Business Administration.

"We are a Federal agency that offers SBA Disaster loans, for homeowners [and] businesses of all sizes," said Sandra Harris, Manager of Field Operations with the SBA.

The SBA this week opened it's field office in the Superior Business Center. The agency offers up to $40,000 for homeowners and renters to replace damaged personal property, $200,000 for homeowners to repair or replace real estate, and up to $2 million for non–farm businesses of all size, and private nonprofits, to repair business assets physically damaged by the disaster. Interest is as low as1.9% for homeowners, 3% for non–profits, and 4% for businesses.

"It's a great thing that they're offering, and the percentage rate is so low, and to have 30 years to pay it off—I mean, that's great," said Gardner.

And, according to SBA officials, the loans are good even if the homeowner or business later qualifies for insurance coverage or FEMA aid.

"If we work up a loan, and then they do get insurance money back from their claim, then they can just use that money to pay down on the loan," said Harris.

...and, while the Minnesota Ballet has yet to seek assistance from the SBA, according to Gardener, it's sounds like a great option, because the show must go on.

"We can have the funding to repair what we need to repair immediately, and then pay back the loan right away, when we get the insurance money," said Gardner.

...another form of Federal support for those still sifting through the wreckage.

Any county within, or immediately surrounding, the federally declared disaster zone is eligible for an SBA loan, as they work to not only repair and restore damage, but boost businesses who may have suffered economic losses from the flood.

If you, or your business, is interested in obtaining a loan, you can:

apply online using the Electronic Loan Application (ELA) via SBA’s secure website at https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela.

Visit our temporary center if you prefer face to face assistance, if you want to apply at the Center.

Individuals and businesses unable to visit the Center in person may also obtain information and loan applications by calling the SBA’s Customer Service Center at 1-800-659-2955 (1-800-877-8339 for the deaf and hard-of-hearing), or by sending an email to disastercustomerservice@sba.gov.

Loan applications can also be downloaded from www.sba.gov.