Oregon Businesses Affected By Wildfires Can Now Apply For Federal Aid
Oregon businesses physically impacted by wildfires in eight counties are now eligible for low-interest federal loans through the Small Business Administration (SBA). Businesses in 14 adjacent Oregon counties and two California counties may also seek financial support through the SBA’s economic injury loan program.
These financial aids for businesses are part of a major disaster declaration President Trump signed into effect late Tuesday. Oregon Governor Kate Brown had previously requested the declaration Monday. The declaration covers virtually all of western Oregon, as well as some counties in the central and eastern parts of the state.
Besides businesses, individuals are also able to apply for financial aid through the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s DisasterAssistance.gov website.
The affected counties approved to receive SBA loans for physical damage due to wildfire are: Clackamas, Douglas, Jackson, Klamath, Lane, Lincoln, Linn, and Marion. Businesses within those counties may be eligible to receive federal funding of up to $2 million, per the SBA’s fact sheet [PDF] on the program.
If a business does receive aid through this SBA program, it can use the funds to “repair or replace disaster-damaged property.” The SBA definition of physical damage includes real estate, inventories, supplies, machinery, and equipment.
Businesses of any size within the affected counties may apply for funding through the federal physical disaster program. Additionally, private, non-profit organizations (which include, but are not limited to charities, churches, and private universities) are also eligible.
It is noteworthy that the SBA is administering loans for businesses within the impacted areas and not grants. As such, businesses will need to repay any funds received with interest. However, the SBA pegs this interest quite low — it’s 3% for businesses lacking credit elsewhere and 6% for businesses with other available credit lines. Non-profits are locked into an even lower interest rate of 2.75%.
Loan terms are also generous, with some reaching up to 30 years for businesses without additional credit and seven years for businesses with other credit sources. Exact term lengths are determined based on each borrower’s ability to repay their loan.
The adjacent Oregon counties also eligible for funding are: Benton, Coos, Curry, Deschutes, Hood River, Jefferson, Josephine, Lake, Multnomah, Polk, Tillamook, Wasco, Washington, and Yamhill. The California counties of Modoc and Siskiyou are additionally included as being in the adjacent area.
Businesses within those counties can seek loans of up to $2 million via the SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program. Unlike the loans available for businesses within the declared disaster area, EIDL loans can’t be used for property damage; instead, the SBA limits these loans to covering “necessary financial obligations that cannot be met as a direct result of the disaster.”
Interest rates for EIDL loans are similar to the physical disaster loans: 3% for businesses and 2.75% for non-profits.
How To Apply For Oregon Wildfire Disaster Relief Loans
Oregon businesses (as well as those in the two designated California counties) interested in applying for federal relief may do so via the SBA website. Applications for physical disaster relief loans can also be downloaded and mailed to the SBA:
To apply for a loan through the SBA online, businesses need to:
- Create an account within the SBA disaster loan portal, which requires the applicant’s Social Security Number.
- Answer several basic questions that help determine eligibility, loan type, and reason for aid.
- Fill out the disaster relief application, which requires information such as the damaged property addresses, estimated loss, and insurance info.
- Fill out an IRS form to request the business’ tax transcript (the SBA uses this transcript to determine the applicant’s repayment ability).
Depending on the type of business, the applicant might need to fill out additional forms.
The application window for physical disaster loans closes November 16, 2020. EIDL applicants may apply through June 15, 2021.
The SBA sets a number of criteria that businesses need to meet in order to be eligible for a loan through either program. Businesses must:
- Maintain an acceptable credit history as deemed by the SBA.
- Show the ability to repay all loans.
- Provide collateral for loans above $25,000 (this collateral may include real estate).
Other Financial Relief Options
Businesses impacted by the Oregon wildfires may have difficulty seeking other financial relief because of the recession generated by COVID-19. However, it’s always worth checking around for more sources of funding.
For instance, you (as well as your employees) may qualify for tax relief. Visit the IRS website for more information.
The Oregon Community Foundation also has a hub for supporting wildfire relief throughout the state.
For additional and more general coverage of the SBA’s disaster relief program, read Merchant’s Maverick’s article covering the topic.