Companies whose businesses were hurt by Hurricane Sandy have until the end of the month to apply for economic injury loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration.
The loans — capped at $ 2 million — are available to small businesses, small agricultural cooperatives and most private nonprofit organizations. They come with interest rates of between 3 and 4 percent.
The July 31 deadline for working capital loans comes nine months after the storm ravaged parts of the Jersey Shore.
"A lot of times businesses, especially those without physical losses, might not realize the impact of the disaster" until months later, said Kathy Cook, a spokeswoman for the SBA's disaster assistance program.
For instance, Cook cited an example from another disaster where the bridge to a tourist island was destroyed. The businesses on the island immediately felt the economic impact, but businesses on the mainland saw a steady flow of business from relief workers, construction crews and others. Only after those emergency personnel left did the mainland businesses begin to feel the full economic impact of the storm.
The SBA economic injury loans can be used to pay fixed debts, payroll, accounts payable or other expenses the applicant could have paid had the disaster not occurred. The loans are available to companies and nonprofits in 11 counties: Atlantic, Bergen, Burlington, Camden, Cape May, Cumberland, Essex, Somerset, Sussex, Union and Warren.
On Monday, the New Jersey Economic Development Authority launched its own small-business loan program for Sandy victims. Those loans are funded through the federal Community Development Block Grant disaster recovery program. State loans are capped at $5 million. Applicants to the state program must first have sought assistance from the SBA, though that requirement will expire once the SBA program ends.
New Jersey is one of four states receiving SBA assistance after Hurricane Sandy. Businesses in portions of New York, Pennsylvania and Delaware are also eligible for assistance.
Electronic SBA loan applications are available at disasterloan.sba.gov/ela. More information is also available by calling (800) 659-2955. More information on the EDA program can be found at application.njeda.com/strongernjbusiness.
Reporter Jared Kaltwasser is @JaredKaltwasser on Twitter.