Many small businesses in Huntingdon County have already been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic and there will be more to come, but thankfully there is some relief available in the form of federally backed disaster loans.

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) is now offering Economic Injury Disaster Loans, which can offer up to $2 million in assistance to small businesses to help overcome the temporary loss of revenue they are experiencing.

Huntingdon County Business & Industry (HCBI) executive director Debra Clark has spoke with some local businesses and said they mostly share similar concerns.

“They are afraid for themselves, their employees and the economy of our county,” she said. “They are and will continue to be impacted financially due to the restrictions on their normal operations. They have, however, found a silver lining to their current predicament. Some of these small businesses have teamed up to help alleviate each other’s burdens, sharing food, assisting with deliveries, combining wholesale orders, etc.”

HCBI’s physical office is closed at this time, but continues to be available via email and checks voicemails regularly.

“We have been instructed to not complete the applications for clients. SBA has recommended that we direct all questions to them in order to provide consistent answers, but we can assist with clarifying questions on the application. We have been sharing updates on our website, social media and email as we learn more,” said Clark.

Clark has heard stories about businesses supporting each other in these trying times.

“During a very stressful and scary time for each of them, they are still going out of their way to support others. I was also told that some of our larger, essential businesses that are remaining open have been placing orders at these local establishments to provide meals to their employees. That is the kind of support that our community is showing and is why Huntingdon County is a wonderful place to live. I hope to hear more of these heartwarming stories throughout these unprecedented times,” said Clark.

SBA acted under its own authority, as provided by the Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act that was recently signed by President Trump, to declare a disaster following a request received from Gov. Tom Wolf March 18. The disaster declaration made SBA assistance available in Pennsylvania.

These loans may be used to pay fixed debts, payroll, accounts payable and other bills that can’t be paid because of the disaster’s impact.

The interest rate is 3.75% for small businesses without credit available elsewhere; businesses with credit available elsewhere are not eligible. The interest rate for nonprofits is 2.75%. SBA offers loans with long-term repayments in order to keep payments affordable, up to a maximum of 30 years. Terms are determined on a case-by-case basis, based upon each borrower’s ability to repay.

To learn more about the loans, visit www.sba.gov.

Nathan can be reached at nwoods@huntingdondailynews.com.

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