Sandy the Frankenstorm is barreling her way up the East Coast, flooding coastal towns, closing schools, and shutting down major metropolitan transportation systems. While safety of employees and customers is always a top concern, for most business owners, worries of how they will recover from Sandy financially are never far away.
Entrepreneurs -- and homeowners, for that matter -- should know that Uncle Sam has a loan program that can help them.
One mandate of the Small Business Administration's federal charter is to provide assistance to homeowners, renters and businesses in the wake of a national disaster. And while the full implications of Sandy's destructive path are still unknown, President Obama has declared Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Delaware, Maryland and the District of Columbia federal disaster zones.
The SBA's Office of Disaster Assistance provides low-interest, long-term loans quickly to business owners trying to rebuild physically and financially after a natural disaster. Your business is eligible for loans to get physical structures back to pre-storm condition and for loans to help a business owner survive through revenue lost as a result of a storm.
A loan can be used to repair or replace things like inventory, machinery and equipment. Both businesses and nonprofit organizations are eligible.
Your first line of defense, of course, would be your insurance carrier. But SBA disaster loans are available for uninsured and under-insured physical damage. The maximum interest rate ranges from 4 percent to 8 percent, depending on your ability to access credit elsewhere. You have up to 30 years to repay the loan, which can be for up to $2 million.
Secondly, if your small businesses or nonprofit is located in a declared disaster area and you have lost money as a result of a disaster -- even if you did not sustain physical damage -- you could be eligible for an Economic Injury Disaster Loan.
An economic injury loan is available only to those business owners who are unable meet their financial obligations and can't get credit elsewhere. Loans are available for up to $2 million, interest rates can't exceed 4 percent and a business owner has up to 30 years to repay the loan.
You can apply for both here.
Should you be out of the wrath of Sandy, consider yourself lucky. But also, take the Frankenstorm's path of destruction as a good reminder to prepare a disaster plan.
In two weeks, on Nov. 13 from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. EST, the SBA will co-host a webinar on how to prepare your business for disasters -- whether that is a hurricane, snow storm, flood or tornado. The webinar is jointly hosted by Agility Recovery, a business recovery consultancy headquartered in Charlotte, N.C. And for more disaster tips, read "Manage Through the Unthinkable With a Disaster Plan."
How are you faring as Sandy approaches? What is your businesses economic recovery plan? Leave a message below and let us know.