Help after the Storms

By Ron Simmons

The recent storms devastate people’s lives.  Everyone’s heart goes out to  storm victims across the south.  Who knows when it will be our turn for assistance and many agencies and organizations are on the move to help.  The Georgia SBDC Network has assisted with disaster relief in the past including floods in southern Georgia, Hurricane Katrina in Mississippi, floods in western Georgia, and droughts in northern Georgia as well as winter weather record-breaking snow events.

How does this assistance process work? Typically, once the Federal Disaster Declaration is made, federal agencies including the U.S Small Business Administration (SBA) mobilize and open local disaster relief centers in the affected communities.  SBA brings in resources from a separate disaster relief division which provides business relief and recovery loans as well as home damage disaster loans. (This is not the SBA division based in the Atlanta District office which provides business loans that most people are acquainted with).

SBA disaster specific resources are brought into play to meet demand, but occasionally large events create a need for additional help. Your Georgia SBDC Network may be able to provide that help.  The disaster loan application includes the creation of a personal net worth statement from an entrepreneur(s) affected as well as  re-construction of  income statements and balance sheets for the business or businesses (many entrepreneurs own more than one) over the time period leading up to the disaster event. This process is where the SBDC has been able to help by assisting with the completion of the application and re-construction of the financial statements necessary to support the loan application. Incomplete applications slow the process.

The application process is not difficult and the information required is usually available from the entrepreneur or it can be re-constructed.  Unfortunately, those who are directly affected are often also struggling with damaged homes and families. The situation can be overwhelming. SBDC consultants who have worked in these situations, and there are several,  have specific experience and training to help the entrepreneur sort through necessary paperwork.

Federal disaster declarations are specific by event and list the counties covered. Winds, rain, storms, etc.  do not always stop at the county lines. Frustration occurs when the business that is “just across the county line” is affected and damaged, but is not actually covered by the declaration and is not able to access the SBA assistance. This makes them unable to apply. What to do? We have been in touch with bankers and micro-lenders that serve these areas and may have some resources to offer. Let us know if we can help.

Please forward this information to anyone you know who may be in need of assistance during a difficult time. The Georgia SBDC Network has 17 offices around the state. Offices in N. Georgia include,  Rome, Gainesville, Kennesaw, Carrollton and Athens. Please find us on the web at www.georgiasbdc.org. Or call the us in the Gainesville area office at 770-531-5681 for free one-on-one confidential business consulting services.

 

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