Businesses impacted by Hurricane Sandy have a place to turn for advice and low-interest loans as the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) has opened a Business Recovery Center at the Fairfield County SCORE office at 111 East Ave. in Norwalk, Conn.
The Center offers one-on-one assistance to business owners seeking relief from losses caused by the storm. The Center opened Monday and two SBA representatives will be on hand from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. weekdays for the next several weeks. SCORE, itself a program of the SBA, will operate as usual.
John Frederick, SBA public affairs specialist, said money is available for loan to businesses that have suffered either physical damage, "economic injury," or both. Economic injury, he said, is money lost by a company because clients of theirs were impacted by the storm. Frederick said the SBA can make loans of up to $2 million. Interest rates range from 4 to 6 percent for businesses and are typically 3 percent for nonprofits. Loan amounts and terms are set by the SBA and are based on each applicant's financial condition.
The Business Recovery Center, the first established in the state following Hurricane Sandy, is open for all businesses in Fairfield County.
"SBA is here to help," Frederick said. "We encourage everyone to come and get their questions answered. Some business owners are not accountant savvy so we can help."
SBA is a government agency created in 1976 to protect, strengthen and represent the interests of the nation's small businesses.
"Businesses with physical damages or loss of revenue should seriously consider visiting the Center and applying for an SBA disaster business loan," Bernard Sweeney, SBA's Connecticut district director, said in a statement. "SBA's customer service representatives are on hand at the Center to answer questions about the disaster loan program and assist business owners in completing their applications."
Businesses of any size may borrow up to $2 million to repair or replace damaged or destroyed real estate, machinery and equipment, inventory, and other business assets.
Brian Baxendale, chairman of Fairfield County SCORE, said he was more than willing to share his organization's office space for the cause.
"This is tremendous," he said. "We're dedicated to growing business. When they (SBA personnel) are gone, we'll continue to help."
SCORE, through volunteer counselors, offers free business advice to small businesses. The local chapter of SCORE features 90 volunteers.
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