SBA, Regions Bank offer small businesses relief in wake of Hurricane Harvey

Hurricane Harvey approaches Texas from the Gulf. (NASA)

Following a disaster declaration by U.S. President Donald Trump, low-interest federal disaster loans now are being made available to Texas businesses and residents, U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) Administrator Linda McMahon announced on August 26.

In addition, financial institutions in the affected area, including Regions Bank, have announced special emergency services for their small business and consumer customers.

The federal disaster declaration referred to the counties of Bee, Goliad, Kleberg, Nueces, San Patricio and Refugio in Texas.

Under the auspices of the SBA, businesses in those counties and private non-profit organizations may borrow up to $2 million to repair or replace damaged or destroyed real estate, machinery and equipment, inventory and other business assets.

In addition, the SBA is authorized to provide extra financing to businesses and homeowners to help with the cost of improvements geared to protect, prevent or minimize the damage that could be wreaked by future storms.

For small businesses, small agricultural cooperatives, small businesses engaged in aquaculture and most private non-profit organizations of any size, SBA offers Economic Injury Disaster Loans to help meet working capital needs in the wake of the disaster. Economic injury assistance is available to businesses, regardless of whether they have suffered any property damage.

Interest rates may range from as low as 3.3055% for businesses, to 2.5% for private nonprofit organizations and 1.75% for homeowners and renters, with terms up to 30 years. Loan amounts and terms are set by the SBA, based on each applicant’s financial condition.

“SBA is strongly committed to providing Texas with the most effective and customer-focused response possible and with access to federal disaster loans to help Texas businesses and residents affected by this disaster,” said McMahon. “Getting our businesses and communities up and running after a disaster is our highest priority at SBA.”

To be considered for all forms of disaster assistance, survivors must first call the Federal Emergency Management Agency at (800) 621-FEMA (3362). As soon as Federal-State Disaster Recovery Centers open throughout the affected area, SBA will provide one-on-one assistance to disaster loan applicants.

To find a disaster recovery center near you, call the SBA Customer Service Center at (800) 659-2955.

Bank on help from financial services companies

In addition, banks are pitching in. For example, Birmingham, Alabama-based Regions Bank, which has three branches in the Houston metro area, announced on August 28 that it would provide a variety of financial services in support of small businesses and consumers impacted by Hurricane Harvey and the ongoing flooding related to that storm.

To help its local SMB customer to recover from the tropical storm and its aftermath, Regions Bank will:

  • For a limited time, waive its fees on customers who use ATMs at other banks in the affected areas;

  • Provide payment extensions available to current credit cardholders;

  • Offer one penalty-free CD withdrawal;

  • Provide personal loan payment extensions and forbearances through the Regions Customer Assistance Program;

  • Set up a dedicated team to assist Regions’ customers who are facing difficulties making payments on credit cards, loans or lines of credit. Customers may call 1-800-411-9393 for immediate assistance.

“Several of our communities have been overwhelmed by unprecedented flooding and ongoing rainfall related to Hurricane Harvey, and many … businesses are facing a long road to recovery,” said Texas Area President for Regions Bank Marc Angle, “By providing this assistance, we hope we can help make the recovery easier. Our associates in Texas are committed to providing the advice and assistance our customers and communities need.”

For the safety of customers and associates, Regions branches in Houston remain closed. Branches in the impacted areas will be reopened as soon as possible.