The U.S. Small Business Administration is providing disaster assistance to Marion County businesses and residents affected by the tornado

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The U.S. Small Business Administration is offering low-interest disaster loans to businesses and local residents who were impacted by the EF-1 tornado that passed through Marion County on March 12.

SBA Administrator Isabella Casillas Guzman made the loans available in response to a March 24 letter from Florida Governor Ron DeSantis requesting an SBA disaster declaration.

Businesses and residents in the Declared Area, which includes Marion County and adjacent counties (Alachua, Citrus, Lake, Levy, Putnam, Sumter, and Volusia), can now apply for a low-rate disaster loan. interest with the SBA.

To assist affected businesses and residents, the SBA will open a Disaster Loan Awareness Center (DLOC) in Marion County on Monday, April 4 at the Ocala Public Library (2720 E Silver Springs Boulevard in Ocala) . The opening hours of the center are Monday to Friday (9 a.m. to 6 p.m.) and Saturday (10 a.m. to 2 p.m.).

The DLOC will permanently close on Saturday April 16 at 2 p.m.

Customer service representatives will be available at DLOC to answer questions about the disaster loan program and to assist individuals with their applications. Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, all DLOC visitors are encouraged to wear a face mask.

Jon “Malcolm” Richards, SBA North Florida District Director, said, “Businesses and private nonprofit organizations can borrow up to $2 million to repair or replace real estate, machinery and equipment, inventory and other business assets damaged or destroyed by a disaster”.

For small businesses, small agricultural cooperatives, small businesses engaged in aquaculture, and most private nonprofit organizations, the SBA offers economic disaster loans. Loan assistance is available whether or not the business has suffered property damage.

According to the SBA, loans of up to $200,000 are available to homeowners to repair or replace real estate that has been damaged or destroyed. Homeowners and tenants are also eligible for loans of up to $40,000 to repair or replace damaged or destroyed personal property.

Applicants may be eligible for an increase in the loan amount, up to 20% of their physical damages, as verified by the SBA for mitigation purposes. Eligible mitigation upgrades may include a safe room or storm shelter, sump pump, French drain, or retaining wall to help protect property and occupants from future damage from a similar disaster.

Interest rates are as low as 2.94% for businesses, 1.875% for nonprofits, and 1.438% for homeowners and tenants, with terms up to 30 years. Loan amounts and terms are set by the SBA and are based on each applicant’s financial situation.

Anyone interested in a loan can apply online by visiting US Small Business Administration Disaster Loan Assistance Web page. Applicants should apply under SBA statement #17379. Loan applications can also be downloaded by click here.

Disaster loan information and application forms can also be obtained by contacting the SBA Customer Service Center by phone: 1-800-659-2955 or by email: [email protected].

Completed applications should be returned to the Disaster Loan Outreach Center or mailed to: US Small Business Administration, Processing and Disbursement Center, 14925 Kingsport Road, Fort Worth, TX 76155.

The filing deadline for returning property damage claims is Friday, May 27.

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