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SBA opens centers to help business owners post-Sandy

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The U.S. Small Business Administration today opened five recovery centers to help New Jersey business owners affected by Hurricane Sandy apply for federal disaster loans.

The centers, located in Bergen, Essex, Hudson, Middlesex and Monmouth counties, are staffed with representatives to assist companies that suffered physical damage or lost revenue as a result of last week’s storm, according to an SBA news release. The locations are separate from the many Federal Emergency Management Administration centers set up across the state, and are specifically geared toward business owners, rather than homeowners, renters or victims looking for shelter.

To help business owners further, each site has access to counselors from the New Jersey Small Business Development Center, SBA spokeswoman Kathy Cook said. The counselors are in place to help with financial paperwork needed to apply for a disaster loan.

“What we’re trying to do is give everybody as many options to get assistance as possible, and to get help with preparing the documents needed to help us make a loan decision,” Cook said, noting that the SBA is partnering with state agencies and lenders.

The business recovery centers are located at Bergen County Community College, in Hackensack; Rutgers University, in Newark; New Jersey City University, in Jersey City; John F. Kennedy Library, in Piscataway; and Brookdale Community College, in Lincroft. The SBA also announced last week that it had opened a similar location in Manahawkin, at the Southern Ocean County Chamber of Commerce.

The SBA has issued more than 108,000 applications for all victim types and so far received 321, Cook said. She urged businesses to apply, either by visiting a center, by mail or online at https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela.

“Our message is to make sure to apply for assistance even if you think you won’t qualify, because there may be other resources, referrals or other agencies that we can help with,” Cook said, adding, “And don’t get frustrated about the request for financial information.”

In a separate move Thursday, Gov. Chris Christie approved another extension of tax filing deadlines for businesses affected by storm damage. Filings due Oct. 30 and Oct. 31 are now due Nov. 14, and Christie has ordered the Division of Taxation to grant hardship waivers for late filers on a case-by-case basis.

Christie first approved a tax filing extension last week.

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