Vermont Applies For More Loans To Help Businesses Hit By Irene
08/16/12 5:50PM By Steve Zind
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State officials say one year after Tropical Storm Irene, businesses from Wilmington to Waterbury are still trying to recover from the storm.
The state is applying for a new round of economic development loans to help them.
Almost all the help available to businesses trying to recover from disasters comes in the form of loans.
Businesses that could take on the added debt borrowed from the Small Business Administration and their local banks, but a large source of loan money was the Vermont Economic Development Authority.
The authority made $16 million available, with no payments in the first year and interest only payments due the second year. That money is gone now, but there's still a big need.
Pat Moulton Powden, Deputy Secretary of the Vermont Agency of Commerce and Community Development, says, "Trying to really nail down the exact existing need is difficult, but this agency has undertaken a couple of surveys and we've documented in excess of $26 million in remaining need that businesses have."
That's why the state is applying to the federal government for another $5 million to loan to businesses.
Moulton Powden says the money will be available for a range of recovery needs from reconstruction to inventory.
She says if the state does receive the new money, the loans will be tied to technical assistance to help with record keeping and business plans. She says the idea is to avoid the attrition that usually happens to businesses trying to recover from events like Irene.
"Depending on which data you look at, anywhere from 25 to 60 percent of businesses fail two years after some sort of disaster," says Moulton Powden. "We want to bend that curve. We want to make sure less than 25 percent that we lose."Moulton Powden says some loan money might also be available for new businesses that want to open in spaces where a business has closed as a result of last year's floods.