Mary Cervantes

Mary Cervantes is a columnist for the Napa Valley Register.

J.L. Sousa/Register

When a disaster hits a community, navigating through local, state and federal resources can be overwhelming.

The first responder to a disaster after a presidential declaration is the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) followed by the U.S. Small Business Administration Office (SBA) of Disaster Assistance.

Your first step is to register with FEMA prior to meeting with the SBA Disaster Team.

People affected by a disaster are surprised to learn the SBA offers low interest loans not only to businesses, but homeowners too!

There are three types of disaster loans offered by the SBA:

Business Physical Disaster Loans – Loans to businesses to repair or replace disaster-damaged property owned by the business, including real estate, inventories, supplies, machinery and equipment. Businesses of any size are eligible. Private, non-profit organizations such as charities, churches, private universities, etc., are also eligible.

Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL) – Working capital loans to help small businesses, small agricultural cooperatives, small businesses engaged in aquaculture, and most private, non-profit organizations of all sizes meet their ordinary and necessary financial obligations that cannot be met as a direct result of the disaster. These loans are intended to assist through the disaster recovery period.

Home Disaster Loans – Loans to homeowners or renters to repair or replace disaster-damaged real estate and personal property, including automobiles.

Physical damage can be immediate and obvious to the eye, but economic injury may occur over time. No customers, no business.

Napa County businesses suffering from economic hardship due to the wildfires need to apply for an SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loan.

Will all businesses qualify? Maybe not, but you won’t know unless you apply!

The SBA Disaster Team located at the Napa LAC on 2751 Napa Valley Corporate Drive in Napa will review your credit before conducting an inspection to verify your losses.

Interest rates are low and loan terms are up to a maximum of 30 years:

Business Physical Disaster Loans: 3.305 percent

Private, Non-Profit Organization Loans: 2.50 percent

Economic Injury: 3.305 percent

Home Loans: 1.75 percent

There is a caveat to Economic Injury Disaster Loans – the SBA provides this type of loan assistance only to those businesses unable to obtain credit elsewhere.

This means if you have the ability to cover your own business losses, you may not be eligible. But the SBA prefers you apply and let them make the determination.

There are application deadlines. For Physical Damage, the application deadline is Dec. 11, 2017, and the Economic Injury application deadline is July 12, 2018.

The processing time and dispersal of funds depends on how quickly the SBA receives the required documents to your application.

If you need assistance with completing the application, the Napa-Sonoma Small Business Development Center at Napa Valley College can help.

SBDC Business Advisors are trained on disaster assistance and have begun working with clients affected by the fires.

For immediate assistance, you can request services on-line at or call 707-256-7250.

Mary Cervantes is the business services director for Napa Valley College Napa-Sonoma Small Business Development Center. Reach her at 256-7253 or