As a result of the devastating wildfires that began on Aug. 8, small business owners in Hawaii are getting a lifeline. The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) is set to open a Business Recovery Center in Kapa’a on Sept. 11. This move is part of an expanded disaster assistance declaration aimed at helping small businesses throughout Hawaii recover.
The wildfires have caused significant physical and economic damage in Maui. The consequences have rippled throughout Hawaii, affecting small business owners in all five counties. “The center will provide a one-stop location for businesses to access a variety of specialized help,” said Director Jeffrey Lusk of the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Disaster Field Operations Center-West. Small business owners can consult with SBA customer service representatives about potential SBA disaster loans to aid their recovery process. No appointments are needed, and all services are free of charge.
For small business owners, this could be an invaluable resource. Business owners need clear information and practical assistance amid the challenges of recovering from a disaster. At the center, they can learn about SBA’s disaster loan program, get assistance with electronic loan applications, and ask questions tailored to their specific situations.
The newly inaugurated center will be situated at Kaua’i Federal Credit Union’s community space in Kapa’a. Business owners in Maui and Honolulu can also consult SBA representatives at the Business Recovery Centers located in their respective regions.
However, not only businesses that have suffered property damage can benefit. Economic Injury Disaster Loans are also available to aid businesses that have been economically affected by the disaster. The terms of these loans are tailored to each applicant’s financial condition. Notably, the interest does not start accruing until a year after the first loan disbursement, and the repayment also commences 12 months from the first disbursement date.
Joseph Burns, Interim State Director at the Hawaii Small Business Development Center, stated that their business advisors can provide guidance on multiple fronts. They can help business owners re-establish operations, counteract the disaster’s effects, and plan their future strategies.
The importance of such aid cannot be understated. Small businesses often operate on thin margins, and a disaster can quickly derail their operations. A holistic recovery strategy, including both property and economic injury, can be the difference between a business reopening or closing its doors for good.
For those interested, applications and further disaster assistance details are available online at the SBA’s official website. Deadlines for property damage applications are on Oct. 10, 2023, while applications for economic injuries can be filed until May 10, 2024.
The aftermath of the Maui wildfires has undoubtedly been challenging for Hawaii’s small business community. But with these recovery initiatives, there’s hope that affected businesses can bounce back stronger and more resilient than before.
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