FILE - Small Business Administration

The U.S. Small Business Administration building in Washington, D.C.

(The Center Square) – The U.S. Small Business Administration approved Georgia businesses for disaster relief assistance, Gov. Brian Kemp has announced.

Kemp’s request for statewide disaster declaration was approved by the agency Wednesday, he said in a statement. It will make available loans for small businesses impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak.

“This is great news for Georgia small business owners,” Kemp said. “As we continue to navigate the impact of COVID-19 on our economy, small business owners can apply for much-needed funding to continue operation and pay their employees.”

Many of the repayment plans are 30 years with 12-month grace periods. Interest rates range from 2.75 percent to 3.7 percent, according to the news release from Kemp’s office.

About 35 percent of Georgia Chamber of Commerce members reported Monday closing their doors as a result of the pandemic. Many major retail stores, restaurants and shopping malls have announced closures or shortened operating hours.

“As we emerge from this pandemic, it goes without saying that there will be lasting impact to our economy,” said Chris Clark, president and CEO of the chamber. “We must plan today for a robust economic recovery.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has warned against gatherings of 10 people or more and recommend people maintain a space of 6 feet between each other.

COVID-19 is a respiratory disease caused by a novel coronavirus. As of Wednesday afternoon, the Georgia Department of Public Health reported 197 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state, including three deaths.  

COVID-19 symptoms appear within two to 14 days after exposure and include fever, cough, runny nose and difficulty breathing. 

Georgia small business owners and nonprofit organizations can apply for assistance at disasterloan.sba.gov/ela/ for information and the application.

Staff Reporter

Nyamekye Daniel has been a journalist for three years. She was the managing editor for the South Florida Media Network and a staff writer for The Miami Times. Daniel's work has also appeared in the Sun-Sentinel, Miami Herald and The New York Times.