SBA Approves Governor’s Request for COVID-19 Disaster Relief Loans

U.S. Virgin Islands small businesses suffering substantial economic injury as a result of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) now have an opportunity to apply to the U.S. Small Business Administration for low-interest federal disaster loans for working capital.  U.S. SBA Administrator Jovita Carranza made this announcement on March 21.

U.S. Virgin Islands’ small businesses, private non-profit organizations of any size, small agricultural cooperatives and small aquaculture enterprises financially impacted as a direct result of the coronavirus since Jan. 31 may qualify for Economic Injury Disaster Loans of up to $2 million. According to Carranza, this low-interest disaster loan program will assist in meeting financial obligations and operating expenses that could have been met had the disaster not occurred. The deadline to apply for an Economic Injury Disaster Loan is Dec. 21.

“This is great news. This program will be a tremendous help to our USVI small businesses – including many of our VIEDA clients – most of which are hit hard by this unprecedented crisis,” said Kamal I. Latham, CEO of the V.I. Economic Development Authority.

“I’d like to thank Governor Bryan and the officials at the U.S. SBA for their diligence and swift actions to assist the small business community as well as private non-profit organizations. The VIEDA will also inform the public of an upcoming webinar it will host regarding small business COVID-19 resources to provide information and assistance,” said Latham.

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These loans may be used to pay fixed debts, payroll, accounts payable and other bills that cannot be paid because of the disaster’s impact. Disaster loans can provide vital economic assistance to small businesses to help overcome the temporary loss of revenue they are experiencing as a result of the coronavirus.

The disaster declaration makes SBA assistance available in the entire U.S. Virgin Islands. Eligibility for Economic Injury Disaster Loans is based on the financial impact of the new coronavirus. The interest rate is 3.75 percent for small businesses and 2.75 percent for private non-profit organizations. The SBA offers loans with long-term repayments to keep payments affordable, up to a maximum of 30 years, which are available to entities without the financial ability to offset the adverse impact without hardship.

According to the news release from U.S. SBA, the SBA acted under its own authority as provided by the Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act that was recently signed by U.S. President Donald J. Trump, to declare a disaster following a request received from Gov. Albert Bryan Jr. on March 20, 2020.

“Our small businesses are a major pulse of our local economic activity,” said Monique T. Samuel, acting director of lending for VIEDA’s Economic Development Bank. “This program will help provide relief to our entrepreneurs as they focus on taking care of their business as well as their families during this time.”

SBA customer service representatives will be available to answer questions about SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan program and explain the application process.

Applicants may apply online, receive additional disaster assistance information and download applications at https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela. Applicants may also call SBA’s Customer Service Center at (800) 659-2955 or email [email protected] for more information on SBA disaster assistance. Individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing, can call (800) 877-8339.

Completed applications should be mailed to U.S. Small Business Administration, Processing and Disbursement Center, 14925 Kingsport Road, Fort Worth, TX 76155.

To read the actual news release from the U.S. SBA, visit https://www.sba.gov/about-sba/sba-newsroom/press-releases-media-advisories/carranza-implements-automatic-deferment-existing-sba-disaster-loans-through-end-2020.

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