From the November 1999 issue of Entrepreneur

The SBA has launched a five-year pilot program to help small businesses in 118 disaster-prone communities prepare for hurricanes, tornadoes, floods and earthquakes.

Under the SBA's Pre-Disaster Mitigation Loan Program, eligible entrepreneurs can apply for low-interest loans to finance disaster-prevention improvements such as installing fireproof roofing or upgrading buildings to structures that can better withstand the tremors caused by earthquakes or high winds.

Congress has allocated $15 million annually for the program. Business owners can apply for as much as $50,000 at a 4 percent interest rate for up to 30 years.

To determine whether your community qualifies, visit the Federal Emergency Management Agency Web site (http://www.fema.gov) and click on the Project Impact icon. To find out annual deadlines for filing applications or to get additional information about the loan program, visit http://www.sba.gov/disaster or call (202) 205-6743.

Southeast

Funds for starting up or expanding in Dixie

Entrepreneurs just starting or already operating a technology or manufacturing company in the Savannah River region of South Carolina and Georgia can apply for financing through four programs coordinated by the Savannah River Regional Diversity Initiative (SRRDI).

The Small Business R&D Seed Fund, Challenge Fund I and Challenge Fund II for Technical Innovation and Development offer matching grant funds to support the start-up or expansion of businesses with new products or improvements to existing processes. Company owners must have a one-to-one in-kind or cash match for each dollar sought. Because SRRDI's primary goal is job creation, the seed money can be used only for salaries, prototype development and equipment directly related to the new project.

The R&D Seed Fund offers one-year grants of up to $25,000. Challenge Funds I and II provide loans of up to $150,000 and require payback after two years. Start-ups are ineligible for Challenge Fund II, however. That fund is open only to existing businesses with revenues of more than $1 million.

Small-business owners can also apply for up to $250,000 from SRRDI's in-house venture-capital fund. The proceeds can be used for any purpose, and the investment is secured with preferred stock, which the company agrees to buy back after five years at double the value of the original investment.

The SRRDI is targeting five counties: Aiken, Allendale and Barnwell counties in South Carolina, and Augusta-Richmond and Columbia counties in Georgia. For more information, call (803) 593-9954, ext. 1402.

Scholarships

Put down the school books and start a business: money for student entrepreneurs.

Students can benefit from two programs designed to help young entrepreneurs.

The second annual Cindy Rowe Young Entrepreneur of the Year Awards is open to high school seniors who are operating their own businesses or who have developed and sold a company within the past three years.

Eligible applicants must live in the 13-county central Pennsylvania region, and March 31, 2000, is the deadline to enter. Up to 20 semifinalists will receive $250 each, and three finalists will be awarded $500, $1,000 and $2,500 prizes. For details, visit the Web site of sponsor Cindy Rowe Auto Glass at http://www.cindyrowe.com.

Graduates from 21 technical colleges in California, Georgia, North Carolina, Ohio, Puerto Rico, Texas and Wisconsin can apply for Tools for Success scholarships.

Sponsored by Miller Brewing Co., the program helps students who have skills in such areas as automotive technology and computer-aided drafting purchase the equipment needed to get started in jobs or their own businesses.

Interested students can apply through their schools. The average scholarship is $2,000, which, due to volume discounts, typically buys equipment and supplies valued at more than $10,000.

The deadline to apply varies; for more information, call (800) 809-7299.