Small Business Organization extends WNY blizzard loan outreach center

BUFFALO, N.Y. — The Small Business Administration opened two disaster loan outreach centers in Western New York at the beginning of the month.

Public affairs specialist Jim Accurso said the effort has been fruitful as there have been nearly 400 applications for long-term low interest loans to help with recovery from the region’s severe winter weather between Dec. 23 and Dec. 28.

“There are folks that because of the high winds, they did have roof damage, flying debris because of the wind. Folks did have water damage,” Accurso said. “They had burst pipes because it was extremely cold and then the damage that results from that; the damage to the contents of their house.”

While the center in Cheektowaga is now closed, the SBA had already extended operations for the second one at the Delavan Grider Center in Buffalo through this week. With continued foot traffic, staff learned Wednesday they will now stay in Buffalo until next Friday.

“We encourage folks to come in. We are going to be here six days a week, 9:30 in the morning until 6 at night Monday through Friday and 10 until 2 on Saturday,” he said.

The administration has already approved nearly $3 million in loans across Erie County and the five neighboring counties. Accurso said they have been primarily loans for individual homeowners and renters, however he says business owners do have extra time.

“Because the deadline is Nov. 27, those will increase over time. It takes a while for a business owner to really assess where they had a loss,” he said.

Accurso said the outreach also often focuses on individuals to make sure people are aware Small Business Administration loans are available to them and not just businesses.

“My role is to reach out to stakeholders around those counties and those stakeholders can include local governments, county governments, chambers of commerce. We have our small business development centers that we work with. We work with the SBA district office so we do have a number of partners and a number of stakeholders we work with to get the word out,” he said.

While Accurso expects the outreach center to pack up at 4 p.m. next Friday, homeowners and renters have until April 28 to apply online or by mail. He said there will be assistance even when the SBA leaves town.

“Through those partners that I mentioned, the small business development centers, the Veterans Outreach Center, the women’s business centers, they can help with the application process,” he said.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of the story said that nearly $300 million in loans was approved. It has been corrected to say nearly $3 million.

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