On Jan. 24, Steven C. Preston, administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), announced in a release that low-interest loans will be available to small businesses that suffered financial losses due to January's freeze.
Preston's action is in response to a Jan. 22 request from Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger for the SBA to declare a disaster in the wake of statewide damage to crops, which suffered under low temperatures starting on Jan. 11. The declaration covers 40 California counties, including San Luis Obispo.
According to the release, SBA disaster customer service representatives will be on hand to help. The loans are available to "small, non-farm businesses" dependent on growers of freeze-impacted crops, including packing houses, truckers, ag equipment suppliers and even potentially diners, gas stations, markets, and other "main street" businesses whose customers are dependent on agricultural income.
The San Luis Obispo County offices are in Arroyo Grande at the Department of Agriculture (810 W. Branch St., open Wednesdays and Thursdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.) and Templeton at the Department of Agriculture (530 W. Main St., open Mondays and Tuesdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.).
Small-business owners who can't visit an outreach center can call 1-800-659-2955 or visit www.sba.gov/services/disasterassistance. All offices will be closed on Feb. 19 in honor of President's Day. The deadline to apply for these loans in Oct. 24.