SBA provides economic relief to Bell County

Published 2:14 pm Thursday, August 18, 2022

Jordan Brooks

In light of the recent flooding, the Small Business Administration is reaching out to not only the disaster stricken counties, but also local counties such as Bell, Harlan and Claiborne. Disaster loans are now available in Leslie, Magoffin, Martin and Whitley counties. Small businesses in five additional counties in Kentucky, Tennessee and Virginia are eligible to apply for low-interest disaster loans from the SBA.

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The SBA’s role in disaster relief comes out of legislation from the 1980s when congress passed a law that the SBA would provide economic relief to homeowners and renters. The SBA is a resourced partner with FEMA.

“Where FEMA is an organization that assists immediately after disaster strikes, the SBA seeks to bring economic stability to communities,” said Anita Steenson, Public Affairs Specialist from the Office of Disaster Assistance, a division of the Small Business Administration.

The disaster declaration covers Breathitt, Clay, Floyd, Knott, Leslie, Letcher, Magoffin, Martin, Owsley, Perry, Pike and Whitley counties in Kentucky, which are eligible for both physical and economic injury disaster loans from the SBA. Small businesses and most private nonprofit organizations in the following adjacent counties are eligible to apply only for SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loans – Bell, Harlan, Jackson, Johnson, Knox, Laurel, Lawrence, Lee, McCreary, Morgan and Wolfe in Kentucky; Campbell and Claiborne in Tennessee; Buchanan, Dickenson and Wise in Virginia; and Mingo and Wayne in West Virginia.

Interest rates are as low as 3.04 percent for businesses, 1.875 percent for nonprofit organizations and 2.188 percent for homeowners and renters, with terms up to 30 years. Loan amounts and terms are set by the SBA and are based on each applicant’s financial condition. Disaster loan borrowers will have up to one year to begin making payments. The 12-month deferment is automatic and loan borrowers do not need to take any additional action. There is no prepayment penalty and borrowers can begin making loan payments during the deferment period if they choose. Interest will continue to accrue on all disbursed funds through the deferment period.

For small businesses, small agricultural cooperatives, small businesses engaged in aquaculture and most private nonprofit organizations, the SBA offers economic injury disaster loans to help meet working capital needs caused by the disaster. EIDL assistance is available regardless of whether the business suffered any physical property damage.

Steenson emphasized the preventive measures the SBA can help communities take before a disaster strikes, acknowledging that Bell and other counties are not affected physically, but rather economically. Applicants may be eligible for a loan amount increase of up to 20 percent of their physical damages, as verified by the SBA, for mitigation purposes. Eligible mitigation improvements may include a safe room or storm shelter, sump pump, elevation, retaining walls and landscaping to help protect property and occupants from future damage caused by a similar disaster.

To be considered for disaster assistance, applicants should register online at or download the FEMA mobile app. If online or mobile access is unavailable, applicants should call the FEMA toll-free helpline at 800-621-3362. Those who use 711-Relay or Video Relay Services should call 800-621-3362.

Applicants can apply online using the Electronic Loan Application via SBA’s secure website at