Small, non-farm businesses in 55 Texas counties may now apply for low-interest disaster loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA).

“These disaster loans offset economic losses because of reduced revenues caused by a drought that occurred in the following primary counties beginning January 1, 2008,” announced Alfred E. Judd, Director of SBA’s Disaster Field Operations Center - West.

Primary Texas counties are Burleson, Coleman, Comal, Crockett, Hamilton, Hood, Reeves, Upton and Waller;

Neighboring Texas counties include Austin, Bexar, Blanco, Bosque, Brazos, Brown, Callahan, Comanche, Concho, Coryell, Crane, Culberson, Ector, Erath, Fort Bend, Glasscock, Grimes, Guadalupe, Harris Hays, Irion, Jeff Davis, Johnson, Kendall, Lampasas, Lee, Loving, McCullock, Midland, Milam, Mills, Montgomery, Palo Pinto, Parker, Pecos, Reagan, Robertson, Runnels, Schleicher, Somervell, Sutton, Taylor, Terrell, Val Verde, Ward and Washington.

Small businesses and most private, non-profit organizations of any size may qualify for Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDLs) of up to $2 million to help meet financial obligations and operating expenses which could have been met had the disaster not occurred.

“Eligibility for these working capital loans 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, a maximum term of 30 years, and are available to small businesses and most private, non-profits without the financial ability to offset the adverse impact without hardship,” Judd said.

By law, SBA makes EIDLs available when the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture designates an agricultural disaster. Secretary Ed Schafer declared this disaster at the request of Governor Rick Perry.

Businesses primarily engaged in farming or ranching are not eligible for SBA disaster assistance. Agricultural enterprises should contact the Farm Services Agency (FSA) about the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) assistance made available by the Secretary’s declaration. However, in drought disasters nurseries are eligible for SBA disaster assistance.

Information and application forms are available from SBA’s Customer Service Center by calling (800) 659-2955, emailing disastercustomerservice@sba.gov, or visiting SBA’s Web site at www.sba.gov/services/disasterassistance. Hearing impaired individuals may call (800) 877-8339.

Applicants may also apply online using the Electronic Loan Application (ELA) via SBA’s secure Web site at https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela.

The deadline to apply is Sept. 14.