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What Disaster Aid Is Available for Small Businesses?

When disaster strikes, small businesses are hard hit, and the federal government recognizes this. In a Senate committee meeting this week, a Federal Emergency Management Agency representative emphasized the importance of focusing on small business rehabilitation for the sake of employment in recovering communities.

The Senate Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee also discussed implementation of a law passed in November to specifically assist business owners who need to rebuild, reports USA Today. The Recovery Improvements for Small Entities after Disaster Act, commonly called RISE, is designed with you in mind. Let's look at what it offers.

Capital to RISE

After a disaster, it is particularly hard for small businesses to quickly access capital that will allow them to rebuild and rise above. RISE was created to address this, for example when business owners cannot promptly get money from the Small Business Administration (SBA).

The RISE Act provides long-term loans to small businesses that don't receive the SBA funds needed and has hiring requirements for federal agencies to put local contractors to work on disaster recovery. It also allows small businesses to apply to use certain government properties.

Federal officials are still publishing rules for the RISE Act, which passed late last year. They said at the meeting that they are working on automating and streamlining the loan application process under the new law, and to raise limits on the amount of capital lent on unsecured loans.

Funds from RISE have been used to help business owners who are still recovering from Hurricane Sandy in 2012 reportedly. In March, President Obama declared disaster areas throughout Lousiana and Mississippi to allow the locales to receive emergency federal funding for recovery.

Interested in Assistance?

The RISE Act was drafted by Republican Senator David Vitter of Louisiana, who explained the impetus. "Small businesses, in particular, are often among those hit the hardest and experience long-lasting effects when a disaster occurs," Vitter said. "Small businesses need extra help to get back on their feet as quickly as possible, and we need to make sure that they are receiving the help they need."

If you are interested in learning more about how to apply for a loan from the Small Business Administration, through the RISE Act, or via any other entity, get help from a lawyer. An attorney can advise you about financing options, whether you're in a disaster situation or just trying to avoid one.

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