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Disaster Loan Center opens in Clearwater to assist businesses affected by Red Tide

Posted: 4:01 AM, Sep 25, 2018
Updated: 2018-09-25 18:12:30-04

CLEARWATER, Fla. — The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) opened a third SBA Disaster Loan Outreach Center to assist small businesses in the Tampa Bay area affected by Red Tide.

The new center is located at: 

St. Petersburg College EpiCenter
Suite 2-200
13805 58th Street N.
Clearwater, FL

Two other SBA centers opened earlier this month in Manatee and Sarasota Counties:

Manatee County Library -- Island Branch
5701 Marina Road
Homes Beach, FL 34217

Bee Ridge Park
4430 South Lockwood Road
Sarasota, FL 34231

Small businesses may qualify for 30 year loans for up to 2 million dollars. Each center has SBA representatives on hand to provide information about disaster loans, answer questions and assist businesses in completing the SBA application. No appointments are necessary.

Lisa Bettner was the first Pinellas County business to apply for assistance. Her vacation rental company, Florida Beach Rentals, has lost $300,000 and about 30% of their business since red tide started impacting Florida.

"Even before it reached us in Clearwater Beach, we started seeing impacts. People were canceling for fear of red tide," Bettner explained.

Even though conditions on Pinellas County beaches continue to improve, Bettner and other business owners are battling misinformation and constantly reassuring customers that Clearwater Beach is safe. 

The Economic Injury Disaster Loans are intended to assist small businesses to meet financial obligations through the disaster recovery period. The maximum interest rate for this program is 3.385%. 

The application is also available online at disasterloan.sba.gov/ela . Businesses have until June 4, 2019 to apply for the loans.

To receive additional disaster assistance information, visit SBA’s website, call SBA's Customer Service Center at (800) 659-2955 or email disastercustomerservice@sba.gov .

The State of Florida is also offering help through the Florida Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan Program.

Small business owners with two to 100 employees with interest-free loans of up to $50,000 for 180 days. Small businesses impacted by the red tide in Pinellas County may apply for Bridge Loans assistance at the Clearwater SBA Disaster Loan Outreach Center through October 12, 2018.