Small businesses in Merced and other counties can get Rim fire help

Small businesses in counties affected by last year’s huge Rim fire can apply for a disaster loan from the U.S. Small Business Administration through June 26.

The Fresno District office announced Friday that small businesses in Mariposa, Tuolumne, Alpine, Calaveras, Madera, Merced, Mono and Stanislaus counties are eligible for Economic Injury Disaster Loans.

Carlos G. Mendoza, director of the Fresno office, said the low-interest federal disaster loans are available to small businesses that need working capital as a result of the Rim fire, which scorched more than 250,000 acres from Aug. 17 to Oct. 24.

Up to $2 million in loans are available to help meet financial obligations and operating expenses for small businesses involved in nonfarm services, agricultural cooperatives and aquaculture, as well as most private, nonprofit organizations, he said.

“These loans may be used to pay fixed debts, payroll, accounts payable and other bills that can’t be paid because of the disaster’s impact,” Mendoza said in a news release. “Disaster loans can provide vital economic assistance to small businesses to help overcome the temporary loss of revenue they are experiencing.”

Eligibility for the loans is based on the financial impact of the disaster only and not on any actual property damage. The loans have an interest rate of 4 percent for small businesses and 2.875 percent for private, nonprofit organizations with terms up to 30 years. Loans are restricted to small businesses without the financial ability to absorb the fire’s impact without creating a hardship, according to the news release.

Applications can be made online at at

Disaster loan information and application forms are also available by calling (800) 659-2955, or by email at Those who are deaf or hard-of-hearing should call (800) 877-8339.

For more information on disaster assistance programs, go to