Gov. Jay Inslee today requested that the Small Business Administration make its Economic Injury Disaster Loan program available to businesses hurt by the collapse of the I-5 Skagit River Bridge.
The governor's request provided evidence that at least five businesses in Skagit County demonstrated substantial economic injury as a result of the May 23 bridge collapse. That is the threshold needed under guidelines for the disaster loan program.
"The collapse of the bridge has had a significant impact on the surrounding economy, despite outstanding efforts by community leaders and the state Department of Transportation to quickly establish detours and remind visitors that Skagit County remains open for business," the governor said.
After the bridge collapse, the Washington State Military Department's Emergency Management Division encouraged businesses to evaluate economic impacts to determine if they sustained substantial losses as a result of the fallen bridge. Department staff worked with the Skagit County business community to explain the process for obtaining SBA assistance and to collect information from impacted business owners.
The Small Business Administration's Economic Injury Disaster Loan program provides low-interest loans to eligible small businesses that have suffered substantial economic injury, regardless of physical damage. Loans provide operating expenses until a business recovers.
To make its Economic Injury Disaster Loan program available, the SBA must determine that at least five small businesses sustained substantial economic injury as a result of the bridge collapse. These businesses also must demonstrate a need for financial assistance that is not otherwise available on reasonable terms.
If the SBA makes the program available in Skagit County, businesses in the contiguous counties that experienced substantial economic injury as a result of the bridge collapse -- Whatcom, Snohomish, Island, San Juan and Okanogan -- would be eligible to apply. The SBA would also establish loan centers throughout the counties to help businesses seeking assistance.
Inslee's request for SBA assistance is among efforts underway to assist the communities impacted by the bridge collapse. The governor also made $150,000 available from the state Department of Commerce to help local business communities launch a summer marketing campaign.
The Department of Transportation reopened the bridge last week with a temporary span. Information on the bridge and plans for a permanent replacement can be found on the Department of Transportation's website at http://www.wsdot.wa.gov/Projects/I5/SkagitRiverBriUnknowndgeReplacement/default.htm.
Businesses interested in more information about the SBA loan program should contact Karina Shagren at the state Military Department at 253.512.8222.