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Cotton crops in a soggy field after a hurricane. Grace Beahm Alford/Staff

Small businesses, farmers’ co-ops and some nonprofits affected by Hurricane Michael in October may be eligible for low-interest loans from the federal government.

The U.S. Small Business Administration announced Thursday that Economic Injury Disaster Loans are available to small businesses, small agricultural cooperatives, small businesses engaged in aquaculture and private nonprofit organizations.

The loans can be used to pay fixed debts, payroll, accounts payable and other bills that could have been paid had the hurricane not occurred. The loans are not intended to replace lost sales or profits.

The loans are available in Aiken, Allendale, Bamberg, Barnwell, Beaufort, Berkeley, Calhoun, Charleston, Clarendon, Colleton, Darlington, Dorchester, Edgefield, Fairfield, Florence, Georgetown, Hampton, Kershaw, Lee, Lexington, Newberry, Orangeburg, Richland, Saluda and Sumter counties.

“When the secretary of agriculture issues a disaster declaration to help farmers recover from damages and losses to crops, the Small Business Administration issues a declaration to eligible entities affected by the same disaster,” said Kem Fleming, director of the Small Business Association's Field Operations Center East.

The program is available to eligible entities that suffered financial losses as a direct result of the hurricane. With the exception of aquaculture enterprises, the Small Business Association cannot provide disaster loans to agricultural producers, farmers and ranchers.

Loans can be up to $2 million with interest rates of 2.5 percent for private nonprofit organizations and 3.675 percent for small businesses, with terms up to 30 years.

Loan amounts and terms are set by the Small Business Association and are based on each applicant’s financial condition.

Applicants can apply online using the Electronic Loan Application at Disasterloan.sba.gov.

Disaster loan information and application forms are also available by calling the Small Business Association’s Customer Service Center at 800-659-2955 (800-877-8339 for the deaf and hard-of-hearing) or by sending an email to disastercustomerservice@sba.gov.

Completed loans must be submitted by July 23.

Reach Brenda Rindge at 843-937-5713. Follow her on Twitter @brindge.