By Beth Dodd
Teller county business owners and residents got the chance to question the experts about recovering from the Waldo Canyon Fire at an information forum hosted in Woodland Park on April 23. The meeting included important information about the looming deadline for businesses to apply for disaster recovery loans, and much more.
When U.S. Highway 24 closed last year from June 24 to July 1 because of the fire, many businesses lost a big chunk of their critical summer revenue at the peak of tourism season. Now business owners trying to recover from that hit are concerned that possibile flash floods or another fire this year could close the road again. Another road closure could put them out of business for good.
However, since the Waldo Canyon Fire was declared an official federal disaster by President Obama, help is available to local businesses in the form of economic injury disaster loans from the Small Business Administration. The catch is that you must apply for a loan by May 7.
Economic injury disaster loans are offered thru the SBDC or Small Business Development Center, the business counseling and training branch of the SBA. The loans are 4% for up to $2 million with up to 30 years to pay it off. Loans are also available to non-profits for 3%. The loans are to help with economic losses to a business caused by the Waldo Canyon Fire, and you do not need to have suffered property damage to qualify.
You can get more information at disastercustomerservice@sb
“If you expect your business to rebound, this loan may be a good option for you,” said Stan Woods, a SBDC Disaster Recovery Consultant. The loans usually take two to three weeks to be processed and funded, although the process is taking longer right now because of high volume backing things up.
The loans are made based on a business owner’s ability to pay. To apply you will need three years of back taxes from 2011, 2012, 2013. You may also have to put up collateral, although this is usually not a big concern according to Woods. The SBDC also offers other services like free business consulting and business grants that can be helpful to people impacted by the fire, or anyone who owns or is considering starting a business.