Cynthia Cowell, Small Business Administration’s Office of Disaster Assistance public information officer, met with Hill business people last week.

SBA is making loans to local businesses that incurred economic injury from the Mountain or Silver fires. Cowell, here at the request of Riverside County’s Office of Emergency Services, explained the details of the process.

These loans are not limited to physical damage, but may be used to pay fixed debts, payroll, accounts payable and other bills whose payment is affected by the fires — whether short-term or long-term.

The losses are not limited to the fires’ actively burning period. Businesses may not know the damage immediately. In response to a question about the possibility of next spring’s Pacific Crest Trail hikers being routed around Idyllwild, if the trail is still closed, Cowell replied, “That’s why the deadline for filing for the losses is not until May 19, 2014.

“Things that happen now may not have an impact until down the road,” she stressed.

Losses are not limited to lost revenue, Cowell stated, “There may be precautionary expenses such as the loss of consumable or perishable items.”

Also, Cowell said businesses with insurance may not be fully compensated and those losses would constitute economic injury.

The SBA loans have no minimum and can be as great as $2 million, for working capital. Interest rates are 4 percent for businesses and 2.875 percent for nonprofit organizations. The repayment period will be determined with the loan officer, but can be 30 years.

SBA has established a temporary office in Banning to take loan applications through Thursday, Sept. 5. Its hours are 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday and it is located at the Banning Community Center, 789 N. San Gorgonio Ave.

The loan application may also be completed online at