Small business owners affected by flood urged to act now
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FOREST ACRES, S.C. (WOLO) — Every pew in one Forest Acres church was filled on Tuesday night. Residents came out to hear directly from the agency heads managing how Richland County, and the state, will recover from historic flooding. This is the first time since Hurricane Hugo that many of the federal programs have been available to South Carolinians, and the process can be confusing. Even so, FEMA reports that more than 42,000 people have already applied for federal assistance. The agency says it’s already handed out more than $17 million dollars. In an area like Forest Acres, it’s not just homeowners who are underwater. From restaurants, to clothing shops and offices, there were many Forest Acres’ small businesses who were devastated by this flooding. Governor Nikki Haley announced Monday that part of her goal this week will be getting small businesses started on the recovery process. The Department of Labor and Workforce is here to help you get back on track. If you are a small business owner affected by the flooding, department Executive Director Cheryl Stanton says, apply for the unemployment insurance program. “If you’re sitting there telling me I know I will get denied for that, apply anyway,” she says. If you’re rejected, Stanton says that’s okay. You’ll be pushed into the federal Disaster Unemployment Assistance Program. “That is particularly designed for small business owners or others who for some reason cannot collect the regular unemployment insurance.” Stanton says if you’re an employer, do not worry about the filed claims affecting your tax rate. “Because there is a state declaration of emergency, any unemployment claim that is paid out on your business because of the disaster, will not be held against you.” Here’s something else to keep in mind. FEMA is partnered with the Small Business Administration, which provides low-interest loans to disaster-stricken areas. If your business has been physically damaged, you could be loaned up to $2 million dollars. S.B.A. will also work with those of you whose establishments have sustained economic injury, from a decline in customers because of the situation. The resounding advice to small business owners is don’t wait to take action and don’t rule any option out. Director Stanton really did want to stress that the disaster unemployment assistance program is for anyone who is not able to work, even for just a week of time, either because they can’t get there, or the business is shut down; really for any reason. Call this number with any questions: 1-888-834-5890.