City, News

SBA provides federal funding for businesses impacted by marathon bombings

Boston Mayor Thomas Menino announced Tuesday that funding opportunities from the Small Business Administration would be made available to businesses affected by the Boston Marathon bombings starting May 1.

“Our goal was to find alternative funding options for businesses to help them through these challenges, and I am proud that we have achieved that,” Menino said in a press release Tuesday.

The SBA is a federal government agency that provides assistance to businesses and homeowners following many types of disruptions that leave victims in difficult financial situations.

“These businesses that had been closed for several days lost quite a bit of money,” said Carol Chastang, an SBA spokeswoman, “These loans will go a long way toward helping them recoup their losses, stay in business and continue operating the way they were operating before the bombing occurred.”

Mass. Gov. Deval Patrick first reached out to the SBA April 26 after a preliminary survey had been conducted to see whether the SBA should be involved.

“We worked with the city to touch base with the businesses that seemed highly impacted, and all we needed to qualify was to have three businesses with severe impact,” said Peter Judge, a spokesman for the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency. “There could be quite a number of businesses within that area that might avail themselves for loans.”

Patrick sent a letter to the SBA April 26 requesting its assistance for businesses that suffered from the closing of Boylston Street during the crime scene investigation.

“The closure of this vibrant area of downtown Boston has caused significant business disruption and negative economic impact to many businesses in the area,” Patrick said in the letter. “The City [of Boston] anticipates that hundreds of businesses have been severely impacted by this incident.”

The SBA responded quickly to Patrick’s request, announcing the same day that they would make themselves available to affected Boston businesses the following week.

“It [the response from the SBA] was quicker than normal. Usually it’s a handful of days before they [the SBA] turn it around,” Judge said. “They were able to respond and show up in a very short manner.”

The SBA set up in the Boston Public Library  Wednesday, and will be there for two weeks to allow businesses to come and discuss their options for applying for a low interest SBA loan.

“These types of loans for this specific event is to help with short-term cash flow issues. A lot of these companies were closed for two weeks, and particularly restaurants and those types of business lost all of their inventory, if you will, and may not have the cash flow to replace this [lost business],” Judge said.

Loans for private businesses are available from the SBA for affected companies at  4-percent interest rate and can be applied for by the affected companies up to nine months after their first offering, in case a business that at first forgoes the option later finds it was impacted more severely than first expected.

Businesses that were affected by the bombings have experienced significant economic damage from the bombings, and the subsequent loss of business.

“The impact was pretty severe,” said Phil Salmon, a manager of Bromer Booksellers, located on Boylston Street, “I was able to keep up with what we had to do so it wasn’t all piled up when we got back.  I wasn’t able to transact anything new though, there was new business happening, this was all stuff that had already been done the week before.”

Rebecca Caloggero, general manager at Whiskey’s Steakhouse on Boylston, said the loss of business has been  hard on her employees.

“It was a financial burden on the company as well as the staff,” she said. “The company was closed down for nine days, with revenue just not coming in.  And with the staff, some people work paycheck to paycheck and it was very difficult in making rent and paying their bills.”

Ed Borash, president of Sir Speedy Printing and Marketing Services, located on Boylston Street, said his company needs financial assistance from the government.

“We have applied for a federal disaster loan,” he said. “The federal government stepped in and declared it a federal disaster, and if we get the loan, it’s payable over a long period of time and it gives us a chance to catch up.”