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SBA economic disaster loan webinar a hot ticket in SC

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The SBA is offering disaster loans to South Carolina businesses hurt by the coronavirus pandemic. File/AP

In a sign of the times, an online workshop for employers seeking low-interest federal loans to help them weather the coronavirus pandemic is at full capacity.

The registration website for the U.S. Small Business Administration's live interactive webinar scheduled for Tuesday afternoon said the event is "sold out."

The event had been promoted by area business groups to members, including the Greater Summerville/Dorchester County Chamber of Commerce and Lowcountry Local First, which said it plans it share a recording afterward on its website.

The sell-out prompted the SBA to schedule another session explaining the ins and outs of its economic disaster loan program for Thursday from 2-3 p.m. Spots were still available early Tuesday afternoon. 

"We will continue to monitor registrations and add additional webinars as needed," the SBA's Columbia office said in email Tuesday.

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The U.S. government cleared the way for South Carolina businesses  to apply for the aid last week after declaring the financial equivalent of an hurricane or other natural disaster had barreled through the state economy.

Gov. Henry McMaster said he asked the SBA to take that action on Feb 17, as the number coronavirus cases surged and as the state ratcheted up its response. The federal financial assistance has also been extended to other states.

The economy in South Carolina has been reeling in the days since McMaster and local officials announced temporary plans to close schools, ban large public gatherings and end dine-in services at restaurants and bars.

Businesses can qualify for up to $2 million in loans from the SBA to cover fixed debts, payroll, accounts payable and other bills. The interest rate is 3.75 percent for small businesses and 2.75 percent for private non-profit organizations.

The SBA said the loans can be repaid over as many as 30 years to keep the payments affordable.

Contact John McDermott at 843-937-5572 or follow him on Twitter at @byjohnmcdermott

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