Recovery help: Fire-impacted businesses can apply for low-interest loans

January, 2018 Posted in Community, Nature, News

By Mary Owen

Breitenbush Hot Springs Retreat and Conference Center.

Breitenbush Hot Springs Retreat and Conference Center.

Detroit area businesses impacted by recent wildfires may get a hand-up from Marion County Emergency Management.

The U.S. Small Business Administration is offering low-interest loans for working capital to small businesses economically impacted by the Milli and Nash fires that occurred in August and September. Assistance is available in 11 counties, including Marion and Linn.

“We greatly appreciate the efforts of the county’s Office of Emergency Management to make sure our local businesses have the opportunity to access low-interest loans if they need them to help recover from losses related to fires late this summer and early fall,” said Allison McKenzie, executive director of GROW-EDC.  “While some businesses actually benefitted from the firefighters being in town, several businesses experienced a downturn during August in particular, usually the peak month of the summer, with Breitenbush the hardest hit of all since they had to close for several weeks.”

Breitenbush Hot Springs is a retreat and conference center near Detroit. It attracts visitors from all over the world, many of whom spend money at nearby establishments. Forced to evacuate when air quality became poor, Breitenbush set up an emergency operations center at the coast just north of Lincoln City with 10 staff members who worked on canceling reservations. Despite the impending fire danger, a skeleton staff kept the resort secure.

“We gave back over $100,000 in refunds,” said Peter Moore, the retreat center’s business manager. “This fire costs us a half a million in income because it happened in high season. We usually take in $4 million a year, so it was a huge economic hit.”

Originally, Moore said the worker-owned coop would just “suck up” the loss, but the SBA loans may provide an alternate solution.

Small, non-farm businesses, small agricultural cooperatives, small businesses engaged in aquaculture, and most private nonprofit organizations may qualify for Economic Injury Disaster Loans of up to $2 million to help meet financial obligations and operating expenses which could have been met had the disaster not occurred.

These loans may be used to pay fixed debts, payroll, accounts payable and other bills that can’t be paid because of the disaster’s impact. Eligibility is based on the financial impact of the disaster only and not on any actual property damage.

The SBA loans have an interest rate of 3.215 percent for small businesses and 2.5 percent for private nonprofit organizations with terms up to 30 years. They are restricted to small businesses without the financial ability to offset the adverse impact without hardship.

Applications may be made online at Applicants may also call SBA’s Customer Service Center at 800-659-2955 or e-mail for more information on SBA disaster assistance.

The deadline to apply for economic assistance is Aug. 16, 2018.

Questions can be directed to Kathleen Silva, emergency preparedness coordinator with Marion County Emergency Management, 503-365-3136.

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