Small businesses in Texas can apply for emergency federal loans

Businesses on Sixth Street in Austin closed their doors during the COVID-19 pandemic. Photo credit: Jordan Vonderhaar for The Texas Tribune

By Mitchell Ferman, Texas Tribune

Small businesses battered by the novel coronavirus pandemic sweeping through Texas can apply for long-term, low-interest loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration, Gov. Greg Abbott announced Friday.

The Economic Injury Disaster Loan is available for small businesses to apply. Questions of eligibility, and how to apply, can be answered on the agency website.

Businesses are seeking relief from the government following economic devastation brought on by the new coronavirus, which has led to major event cancelations, school district shutdowns, and closures of in-person bar and restaurant services. Business owners have not been thrilled with the government’s response.

At the beginning of the week, when business started slowing and some Texas cities required certain sectors to close or limit operations, Kevin Richie, who owns a light and installation company in Austin, was looking for government support.

“The president keeps talking about these SBA funds, but I’ve checked their site and it looks like there’s a slew of states that have applied. And Texas hasn’t,” Richie said Monday. “But even then, whenever Texas does appear eligible, it’s a loan that you need to qualify for.”

Richie and other small-business owners said they need the money quickly. Bob Stein, a professor at Rice University, said the SBA has typically administered funds swiftly.

“Of the 2,500 federal aid programs,” Stein said, “I can’t think of a single federal aid program that can inject money into the system as quickly you can with the SBA.”

Abbott and the SBA have not provided a timeline for the loan program.