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Many business owners in Joplin have been watching the scenes of rescue and recovery unfold with another worry on their minds: how they will recover the income they’re losing every day as a result of the tornado. As KSMU’s Jennifer Moore reports, a ray of light is headed their way Thursday morning with the opening of a Business Recovery Center, which has been set up to answer questions, offer low-interest loans, and help businesses find out what other help is available.
The Business Recovery Center opens at 9 o’clock Thursday. It’s at the Newman Innovation Center—that’s next to the Chamber of Commerce, at 320 East 4th Street, in the part of town that was largely untouched by Sunday’s tornado.
There, the Small Business Administration, or SBA, is accepting applications for loans of up to two million dollars.
Rob O’Brian is the president of the Joplin Area Chamber of Commerce
“They are fast processing, low interest, long-term loans. We really encourage businesses, even if they think they are not going to need SBA help, to come in and register anyway. Because we have about a six week window for businesses to get their information in. And after that, if they then find out they need help, it’s too late,” he said.
The center will also have experts on hand to answer questions that business school probably didn’t prepare you for.
“How do you recover lost records? How do you re-do a business plan when you have this kind of damage? What are the things you look at as you re-establish a business?”
O’Brian said the business recovery center will also help local entrepreneurs navigate through insurance questions.
And even if a business wasn’t physically damaged by the tornado, it still could have suffered economic injury…and chances are, he says, many have.
“The power was out. Customers can’t get to them. People right now are very focused on the relief effort and not necessarily focused on running their business. They’re trying to be very helpful, but at some point, they’re gonna turn around and say, ‘Boy, I’ve really lost money here,’ and so there are loans for that economic injury component as well,” he said.
He said one thing the business community will need in the coming weeks and months is office space: if there are others who have space to lease out, your help is requested. The number for the Joplin Area Chamber of Commerce is 624-4150, or you can visit our website: www.ksmu.org for a link to this story.
For KSMU News, I’m Jennifer Moore.