SBA Recovery Center in LaPlace assists business owners, homeowners & renters

Published 7:00 am Saturday, September 25, 2021

LAPLACE — The Small Business Administration Recovery Center that recently opened at 390 Belle Terre Blvd. in LaPlace is here to help not only small business owners, but also homeowners and renters impacted by Hurricane Ida.

The Recovery Center is open from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Wednesday until further notice.

SBA’s disaster loan program is activated following a presidential disaster declaration, according to spokesperson Yolanda O. Stokes.

“Louisiana is no stranger to disasters. Over the last two years or so, we’ve not only had Hurricane Ida. We’ve had the COVID disaster. We’ve had hurricanes Zeta and Delta in Louisiana and we’ve had flooding incidents,” Stokes said. “Despite our name being the Small Business administration, we do provide loans for homeowners, renters, private nonprofits and, of course, businesses of all sizes. We want to help everyone in the community, and we’re not going to turn anyone down.”

SBA representatives saw an influx of disaster survivors on Sept. 22, the first day the Recovery Center was open in St. John Parish.

To qualify for assistance, individuals must have had some type of damage to their business or property from Hurricane Ida, whether from wind or water damage. Economic injury is also a qualifier in the case that a business was unable to service customers for a period of time due to impacts from the disaster.

Homeowners are eligible for up to $200,000 in assistance to repair or replace their primary residence. These funds cannot be used for a second residence or a vacation home. Low-interest loans for homeowners are at a rate of 1.563%. Homeowners and renters are also eligible for up to $40,000 to replace or repair any personal belongings such as furniture, vehicles or clothing lost or damaged during the storm.

Business owners and non-profits are eligible for up to $2 million in assistance. These loans cover losses that may not be fully covered by insurance when used to replace damaged or destroyed real estate, machinery and equipment, inventory and other business assets. The loans have an interest rate of 2% for nonprofits and 2.855% for businesses.

“We have terms that are very much like a mortgage. They are long-term and can be for 15 years to 30 years. These are some of the tools that make our loans affordable for a disaster survivor,” Stokes said.

She suggests that individuals in need apply for loans right away, even if they may no longer need the loan after insurance settles.

“Oftentimes, the insurance companies are bombarded with claims as a result of the hurricane. It may take quite some time for insurance to settle. This gives people another option for their recovery,” Stokes said. “There are no requirements to take the loan if you don’t need it. If other funds come through, it’s as simple as calling the 800 number to cancel.”

Proceeds from insurance settlements can also be used to pay off an SBA loan.

No appointment is necessary to visit the SBA Recovery Center, and all services are provided free of charge.

“SBA representatives will meet with each business owner to explain how an SBA disaster loan can help finance their recovery. They will answer questions about SBA’s disaster loan program, explain the application process and help each business owner complete their electronic loan application,” said SBA’s Director Tanya N. Garfield of the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Disaster Field Operations Center-West.

State Director Carla Holland of the Louisiana Small Business Development Center said business advisors at the center will provide a number of services to help individuals re-establish their operations, overcome the effects Hurricane Ida and plan for the future.

“Services include assessing business’s working capital needs, evaluating the business’s strength, cash flow projections, and most importantly, a review of options with the business owner to help them evaluate their alternatives and make decisions that are appropriate for their situation,” Holland said.

Stokes added that St. John the Baptist Parish residents can attend any of the centers open throughout the region to receive assistance.

The following centers are open, and the hours are 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. in each location:

  • Monday through Wednesday
    • St. John Parish – River Region Chamber of Commerce, 390 Belle Terre Blvd. in LaPlace
    • Lafourche Parish – South Louisiana Economic Council at Nicholls State University, 322 Audubon Ave. in Thibodaux
  • Thursday through Saturday
    • Tangipahoa Parish – Southeastern Louisiana Business Center/ Small Business Development Center, 1514 Martens Drive in Hammond

SBA assistance can also be obtained online at disasterloanassistance.sba.gov or by calling SBA’s Customer Service Center at 800-659-2955. Individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing may call 800-877-8339.