The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) announced the opening of a Business Recovery Center (BRC) in Gulf Shores Oct. 2 to help businesses impacted by Hurricane Sally.
SBA representatives at the center can provide information about disaster loans, answer questions and assist businesses in completing the SBA application.
“The SBA is committed to the Alabama small business community’s economic recovery. We want area businesses to have a place where they can meet in person with SBA representatives and find out how a low-interest disaster loan can help them recover,” SBA’s Alabama District Director Tom Todt said.
Businesses of all sizes and private nonprofit organizations may borrow up to $2 million to repair or replace disaster-damaged or destroyed real estate, machinery, equipment, inventory and other business assets. Applicants may be eligible for a loan amount increase 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, French drain or retaining wall to help protect property and occupants from future damage caused by a similar disaster.
The new assistance may prove timely in light of the fact Hurricane Delta, another projected Category 2 storm, is anticipated to impact the area to some degree by Friday or Saturday of this week.
The disturbance could follow on the heels of Sally in a region still deep in the throes of recovery from damage inflicted in Baldwin and Mobile counties a little over three weeks ago.
For small businesses, small businesses engaged in aquaculture, small agricultural cooperatives and most private nonprofit organizations, the SBA offers Economic Injury Disaster Loans to help meet working capital needs caused by the disaster. Assistance is available regardless of whether the business suffered any physical property damage or not.
Applicants may apply online using the Electronic Loan Application (ELA) via the SBA’s secure website.
To be considered for all forms of disaster assistance, applicants should register with FEMA online 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.
Additional details on the locations of Disaster Recovery Centers and the loan application process can be obtained by calling the SBA Customer Service Center at 800-659-2955 (800-877-8339 for the deaf and hard of hearing).
The filing deadline to return applications for physical property damage is Nov. 19. The deadline to return economic injury applications is June 21, 2021.
NATION-LEADING FORTIFIED HOMES WEATHER HURRICANE SALLY
Roy Wright, president and CEO of the Tampa, Florida-headquartered Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety (IBHS) and former head of FEMA’s flood mapping program, toured several locations in Orange Beach, Fairhope and Daphne last week to inspect residences and businesses with fortified roofs after the direct landfall of Hurricane Sally in Baldwin County.
With a footprint in six states, Alabama leads the country by far in fortified roof structures.
“There are 16,000 of them in Alabama, and in every instance that we came across, you saw that these homes survived,” Wright said.
“In one neighborhood, people’s homes without the certification had experienced severe wind damage. We then visited another subdivision that had fortified homes and you would find the occasional impacts from flying debris, but the damage was cosmetic. We also visited a fortified medical office in Orange Beach that withstood the storm and was already open and seeing patients,” he continued.
Alabama leads the nation in the certification largely due to several local building codes in Mobile and Baldwin counties mandating fortified design for new and replacement roofs.
In 2011, the state created a program called Strengthen Alabama Homes to encourage homeowners to upgrade their existing roofs to fortified certification.
The program, administered by the Alabama Department of Insurance, provided 2,300 grants upon rollout of up to $10,000 per homeowner to upgrade their existing roofs to fortified standards. Applications were paused in 2017 when funds were tapped out.
Financing for the program isn’t pulled from the state’s general budget but is instead generated from fees paid by insurance companies. Other revenue sources also tapped include federal disaster relief effort funds.
“As homeowners across Alabama are keenly aware, severe weather disrupts lives, displaces families and drives financial loss,” Wright said. “In recent years, we’ve seen our fortified program pick up momentum. The number of certified homes has grown rapidly over the past several years across all participating states, and Alabama’s Gulf Coast has been at the center of adopting these construction methods.”
More information about the Fortified Resiliency Designation program can be found at ibhs.org.
BISHOP STATE RECEIVES $1.3 MILLION STUDENT SUPPORT GRANT
The U.S. Department of Education announced Mobile-based Bishop State Community College was the recipient of the highly competitive $1.3 million TRIO Student Support Services (SSS) grant.
SSS is one of eight federal TRIO programs authorized by the Higher Education Act to help college students obtain funding to afford costs associated with higher education.
The SSS grant, in particular, is designed to provide students from disadvantaged backgrounds with opportunities for academic development and assistance with basic academic requirements.
SSS helps students who have limited income and are first-generation students and/or students with disabilities. The grant provides an array of comprehensive services including academic advising, financial aid advising, career and college mentoring, and assistance with academic tutoring.
These services have shown in some studies to increase the chances of academic success for many students as well as decreasing the likelihood of graduating with high balances of student loan debt.
“We are delighted to receive this highly competitive grant,” Bishop State President Dr. Reggie Sykes said. “The services provided by this multi-year Student Support Services grant will provide vital resources to support our student retention and graduation initiative, but most importantly these new resources will help our students succeed.”
The TRIO Student Support Services grant is effective for the 2021 fiscal academic year.
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