PBS and NPR for Southwest Florida
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations

Moore About Business: Small Business Administration Disaster Assistance Update

sba.png

January 12 is an important deadline for disaster recovery. Karen Moore, publisher of Southwest Florida Business Today talks with Tauheedah Mateen, Small Business Administration Public Affairs Specialist, Office of Disaster Assistance to get the details. Below is the full transcript of the interview.

Karen Moore:
The next SBA deadline is coming up quickly on January 12, right around the corner. What does that mean for people who want or need to apply to the SBA or FEMA?

Tauheeda Mateen:
The January 12 deadline is for physical damages. So anyone, business owner, homeowner, renter who had damages that you can see physically that deadline is January 12. For business owners, you have until June 29, 2023, to submit an SBA application for economic injury disaster that your business had during the time of Hurricane Ian. So we just continue to urge those survivors. No matter how small you think your damages are, please go ahead and submit your application with FEMA as FEMA refers you to the SBA. Of course, we urge you to go ahead and submit that SBA application as soon as possible before that January 12th deadline, so you can get into the queue, get into the process. You don't have to wait for insurance to settle and we just want to make sure that you understand that you know the time just keeps flying by. And go ahead and submit your application as soon as possible at a disaster recovery center. You know they're there to help you with your application, and we want to make sure that you understand that that deadline is coming up quick and to submit your application as soon as possible.

Karen Moore:
I appreciate you clarifying that they must apply through FEMA first and then get referred to the SBA application process.

Tauheeda Mateen:
Yes, so those homeowners and those renters, if for some reason the SBA cannot help you, we will refer you right back to FEMA. It's an automatic process, and then from that point FEMA will, you know, offer additional grant consideration for those business owners. You'll be referred directly to the SBA. And then, you know, if the SBA cannot help you, we will help you through that reconsideration process and refer you to any other resources that are available to help you with your business.

The SBA, in times, of disasters we are able to offer low interest loans to not only business owners of any size, but homeowners, renters. Nonprofit organizations like churches, and also some private organizations. So the SBA disaster loan is not only for business owners. We want to make sure that everybody understands that that service that loan is available to homeowners and renters as well.

Karen Moore:
The SBA announced that as of January 1 they had approved over 19,000 Hurricane Ian disaster loans in Florida for nearly $1.4 billion. I also was asked by a local Chamber of Commerce asking for feedback regarding the ease and effectiveness of the SBA loan application process. What feedback have you received, Tauheeda, regarding the SBA Hurricane Ian disaster loan process? And what suggestions do you have for applicants?

Tauheeda Mateen:
First, I just want to mention that not every day everyone has to read or deal with, you know, government language. So, a roadblock we are seeing is that people are just not understanding what their denials mean. What those letters mean, what their SBA, you know, information that we're asking for. Documentation means, if you hear my voice, please please go into a disaster recovery center or business Recovery center to get help today. You know we are waiting and on standby for those new applicants. Those denials, identifying mistakes that a survivor may have made, reconsiderations help you upload your documents, for face to face help. So, I want to continue to urge people to flood those centers. We have customer service representatives in person physically in the area waiting to help you through this process. Yes, so don't feel like you have to be alone and you you have to go at it alone. Don't please don't feel like your denial letter is the end of the road. There are instructions in there if you don't understand those instructions, please come see us at a disaster recovery center or business Recovery center to get that help.

Karen Moore:
I have gone through the loan process and I'm now in the reconsideration process myself. So, I called the one 800 number and everyone is always so helpful when I call that number. What is that phone number, Tauheeda ?

Tauheeda Mateen:
That number is 1-800-659-2955. Again 1-800-659-2955

Karen Moore:
And because you mentioned this earlier, there is a difference in the initial application process and the reconsideration process. So if you can go through that one more time, even if someone was initially denied a loan, can they ask for reconsideration?

Tauheeda Mateen:
Absolutely, in that denial letter. Please do not throw that denial letter. Like I said, it's not the end of the road for you. In that letter is specified, "How to request a reconsideration." If you are unsure about what documents to supplement your reconsideration with, please visit a customer service representative at one of the disaster recovery centers or the business recovery centers. Or call the 1-800-659-2955. So if you are unsure of what, you know, what that denial means, the most common denials would be repayment ability or unsatisfactory credit history, which both of those do require, and they do have a reconsideration available. A lot of times there is a small mistake; the number that was transposed, the address that was different than the one on your taxes. So please, you know, don't don't give up. We want to help you identify those mistakes and get those corrected.

Karen Moore:
As you can imagine, going through the process can be overwhelming and can be frustrating for the applicant, so it's great to hear your encouragement and I'm sure the listeners appreciate that. Now, Tauheeda there is also website that everyone can go to to get more information. What is that website?

Tauheeda Mateen:
The website that survivors can go and research their SBA disaster information is sba.gov back slash disaster. Please continue to go into the the disaster recovery centers. The business recovery centers. You do not have to be a business owner to visit and get help at one of the business recovery center. Any SBA applicant can get help at any of the SBA locations that we are located in the area.

Karen Moore:
Thank you so much for sharing that, Tauheeda, and thank you again for your time today. For Moore About Business and WGCU, I'm Karen Moore.

Karen Moore is a contributing partner for WGCU and the publisher of SWFL Business Today.