The BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico has created a lot of stir. Politically, it has raised safety questions. Environmentalists everywhere are concerned for land and sea animal life. However, little has been noted about the small business owners who are currently or will be affected by the giant slosh of oil oozing toward the American Gulf coast.
Spilling Over to Businesses
Business owners who depend on marine fishing or control their businesses on the Gulf coastline could see their businesses collapse due to the BP oil spill tragedy. BP, though taking full responsibility, has yet to present a viable and successful cleanup plan. Thus, small business owners ranging from Texas to Florida could face serious impacts.
How the Government Can Help
Thankfully, the U.S. government is stepping in. The Small Business Association (SBA) has a $7.2 billion set aside for a disaster assistance program. With such a fund in place, the SBA is prepared to help small business owners with low-interest “economic injury loans.”
The economic injury loans are available up to $2 million with a small 4% interest rate. Payment of the loans can be stretched up to 30 years. Small business owners who are awarded an economic injury loan may use the funds to pay their payroll, accounts payable, other long-term fixed debts, and any other bills.
The governor of Louisiana has already called upon the SBA and requested that these loans become available to fishermen in the state due to a full ban on fishing along the Louisiana coast. With the BP oil spill cleanup stretching longer and longer into the future, it is likely that many small business owners may take advantage of the SBA disaster loans to keep them solvent.
Louisiana is no stranger to disaster. After Hurricane Katrina hit, there have already been many SBA disaster funds distributed within the state. Those business owners who may already have a SBA disaster loan may request a deferral of loan payments.
Without disaster relief, many small business owners would suffer bankruptcy and lose their businesses. If you are faced with a potential economic loss due to the BP oil spill, contact your local SBA office and find out if you are eligible to apply for their economic injury loan.