This article has been edited to correct and augment some of the information about SBA loans.

Image by Steve Buissinne from PixabayMercer County’s Office of Economic Development is working with its partners on a variety of programs to provide incentives and assistance to local businesses struggling to cope with the Covid-19 pandemic, Mercer County Executive Brian M. Hughes has said.

“Due to the pandemic, employers have had to make the difficult decision of laying off their staff or face imminent closure,” Hughes said in a media release. “Through our most recent partnership with the UCEDC, we are confident that financial assistance can be dedicated to our Capital Region immediately.”

The UCEDC Crisis Relief Loan Program will now offer a low-interest, quick-response, working capital loan program in response to COVID-19. Through the program, small-business owners can borrow up to $15,000 at 2 percent for up to five years with no collateral requirements to meet their COVID-19 crisis needs.

The Crisis Relief Loan Program is designed to provide broad access to working capital. The program features a quick turnaround (after completing the application requirements), no collateral requirements, no pre-payment penalties, and no processing or application fees.

The specific eligibility requirements can be found on the Mercer County Economic Development and UCEDC web pages. Apply online by filling out a Loan Pre-Qualification Form or speak to a loan officer directly at 908-527-1166.

Hughes said the county also is engaging with other resources through its partnerships at the federal and state level.

The U.S. Small Business Administration is offering low-interest federal disaster loans for working capital to New Jersey small businesses suffering substantial economic injury as a result of the Coronavirus (COVID-19), SBA administrator Jovita Carranza announced yesterday evening.

SBA acted under its own authority, as provided by the Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act that was recently signed by the president, to declare a disaster following a request received from Gov. Phil Murphy on March 17.

The disaster declaration makes SBA assistance available in the entire state of New Jersey; and the contiguous counties of New Castle in Delaware; Bronx, New York, Orange, Rockland and Westchester in New York and Bucks, Delaware, Monroe, Northampton, Philadelphia and Pike in Pennsylvania.

“SBA is strongly committed to providing the most effective and customer-focused response possible to assist New Jersey small businesses with federal disaster loans. We will be swift in our efforts to help these small businesses recover from the financial impacts of the Coronavirus (COVID-19),” Carranza said in a media release.

SBA Customer Service Representatives will be available to answer questions about SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan program and explain the application process.

Small businesses, private nonprofit organizations of any size, small agricultural cooperatives and small aquaculture enterprises that have been financially impacted as a direct result of the Coronavirus since Jan. 31 may qualify for Economic Injury Disaster Loans of up to $2 million to help meet financial obligations and operating expenses which could have been met had the disaster not occurred, Carranza said.

The loans can 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.

Eligibility for Economic Injury Disaster Loans is based on the financial impact of the Coronavirus (COVID-19). The interest rate is 3.75% for small businesses. The interest rate for private non-profit organizations is 2.75%. SBA offers loans with long-term repayments in order to keep payments affordable, up to a maximum of 30 years and are available to entities without the financial ability to offset the adverse impact without hardship.

Applicants may apply online, receive additional disaster assistance information and download applications at disasterloan.sba.gov/ela. Applicants may also call SBA’s Customer Service Center at (800) 659-2955 or email disastercustomerservice@sba.gov for more information on SBA disaster assistance.