The U.S. Small Business Administration is offering low-interest working capital federal disaster loans to small businesses economically impacted by the Mountain Fire that occurred July 15 to July 30, SBA Administrator Karen G. Mills said Monday, Aug. 19. SBA acted under its own authority to declare a disaster in response to a request SBA received from Gov. Edmund G. Brown’s designated representative, Mark Ghilarducci, director of the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services, on Aug. 14.

The disaster declaration makes SBA assistance available in Riverside County, the neighboring California counties of Imperial, Orange, San Bernardino and San Diego, and the neighboring Arizona county of La Paz.

“The U.S. Small Business Administration is strongly committed to providing the most effective and customer-focused response possible to assist California’s small businesses with federal disaster loans. We will be swift in our efforts to help these small businesses recover from the financial impacts of this disaster,” said Mills.

“Small, nonfarm businesses, small agricultural cooperatives, small businesses engaged in aquaculture and most private, nonprofit organizations of any size may qualify for Economic Injury Disaster Loans of up to $2 million to help meet financial obligations and operating expenses that could have been met had the disaster not occurred,” said SBA’s Santa Ana Acting District Director Rachel Baranick.

“These loans may be used to pay fixed debts, payroll, accounts payable and other bills that can’t be paid because of the disaster’s impact. Disaster loans can provide vital economic assistance to small businesses to help overcome the temporary loss of revenue they are experiencing,” Baranick added.

Eligibility is based on the financial impact of the disaster only and not on any actual property damage. These loans have an interest rate of 4 percent for small businesses and 2.875 percent for private, nonprofit organizations, with terms up to 30 years, and are restricted to small businesses without the financial ability to offset the adverse impact without hardship.

Applicants may apply online using SBA’s secure website at https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela.

The Inland Empire Small Business Development Center is offering free, personalized counseling to help affected business owners in their recovery. Business owners may contact the SBDC in Riverside from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, by calling 951-781-2345 or by visiting the Inland Empire SBDC Riverside Service Center at 3780 Market St., Riverside.

For owners of these impacted small businesses, disaster loan information and application forms are also available from SBA’s Customer Service Center by calling toll-free 1-800-659-2955 or e-mailing [email protected] Individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing may call 1-800-877-8339. For more information about SBA’s disaster assistance programs, visit www.sba.gov/disaster.

The filing deadline to return economic injury applications is May 19, 2014.