Governor Bill Lee announced Friday, March 20 that Tennessee has received a declaration for Economic Injury Disaster Loan assistance from U.S. Small Business Administration in response to a request submitted Wednesday, March 18.

“I applaud the efforts of the SBA in swiftly processing and approving Tennessee’s request for Economic Injury Disaster Loan assistance,” Gov. Lee said. “Small businesses and nonprofits across the state are suffering greatly in the wake of this pandemic, and these loans will help overcome the temporary loss of revenue companies are experiencing during this difficult time.”

Small businesses and nonprofit organizations that have suffered economic injury as a result of COVID-19 can apply for Economic Injury Disaster Loans of up to $2 million per applicant to help meet financial obligations and operating expenses that could have otherwise been met.

The Economic Injury Disaster Loans are administered and processed through SBA. Applicants may apply online, receive additional disaster assistance information, and download applications at sba.gov/disaster.

Applicants may also call SBA’s Customer Service Center at (800) 659-2955 or email disastercustomerservice@sba.gov for more information on SBA disaster assistance.

Interest rates for the loans are 3.75% for small businesses and 2.75% for nonprofit organizations. The loans can be used to pay fixed debts, payroll, accounts payable or other bills that can’t be paid due to the disaster’s impact.

TNECD Commissioner Bob Rolfe said, “We have been in contact with business and community leaders across the state who are concerned about the toll COVID-19 is placing on their businesses and workforce. We are pleased to see that these loans will act as a source of relief for so many of Tennessee’s small businesses in the months ahead.”

SBA offers loans with long-term repayments in order to keep payments affordable, up to a maximum of 30 years. Terms are determined on a case-by-case basis, based upon each borrower’s ability to repay.

More than 94% of Tennessee’s private sector business establishments have fewer than 50 employees. This represents 151,500 businesses that employ over one million Tennesseans.

Employment has increased 13.6% at these establishments over the last five years, placing Tennessee in the nation’s top 10 states for small business growth.

Small businesses are encouraged to learn more about resources offered by U.S. Small Business Administration at sba.gov.

On Monday, March 23, U.S. Small Business Administration Administrator Jovita Carranza announced changes to help borrowers still paying back SBA loans from previous disasters. By making this change, deferments through December 31, 2020, will be automatic. Now, borrowers of home and business disaster loans do not have to contact SBA to request deferment.

“The SBA is looking at every option and taking every action to cut red tape to make it easier for small businesses to stay in business,” said Administrator Carranza. “Automatically deferring existing SBA disaster loans through the end of the year will help borrowers during this unprecedented time.

“Today’s announcement adds a list of growing actions the SBA is taking to support small businesses. These actions include making it easier for states and territories to request a declaration so small businesses statewide can now apply for economic injury disaster loans, and changing the terms of new economic injury loans to allow for one-year deferments. We are working around the clock to find ways to assist small businesses and today’s action is one step in this process.”