The Montezuma County and Mancos governments declared an economic disaster in June after the plant burned down, putting more than 100 people out of work, and asked Hickenlooper to request assistance from the federal government. In a Friday news release, SBA spokesman Richard Jenkins announced the request had been approved in a federal disaster declaration. Low-interest, federally funded “economic injury disaster loans” will be available to small businesses affected by the fire in seven counties in the Four Corners region.
“Eligibility is based on the financial impact of the disaster only and not on any actual property damage,” the release said. “These loans ... are restricted to small businesses without the financial ability to offset the adverse impact without hardship.”
According to the release, business owners in the region can apply for loans of up to $2 million, at 3.215 percent interest for small businesses and 2.5 percent for private nonprofit organizations.
While many of Western Excelsior’s former employees live in Montezuma County, the plant also employed workers and contractors throughout the region. Consequently, the disaster declaration includes Montezuma, Dolores, La Plata and San Juan counties in Colorado; Apache County in Arizona; San Juan County in New Mexico and San Juan County in Utah. The loans will be available to small non-farming businesses, small agricultural cooperatives and private nonprofit organizations of any size, according to the release.
“SBA is strongly committed to providing the most effective and customer-focused response possible to assist Colorado’s small businesses with federal disaster loans,” SBA Administrator Linda McMahon said in the release.
Small businesses in the region can apply for the loans through the SBA website at disasterloan.sba.gov/ela or mail them to U.S. Small Business Administration, Processing and Disbursement Center, 14925 Kingsport Road, Fort Worth, TX 76155. The Southwest Colorado Small Business Development Center will also offer free counseling for affected businesses, according to the release.
The deadline for loan applications is May 10, 2018.