Gov. Tony Evers in early 2020. (Courtesy Larry Lee)

Governor requests federal disaster loans for businesses, organizations

By Patrick Lynn

Gov. Tony Evers on Wednesday asked the U.S. Small Business Administration for help.

In a letter to the SBA, Evers requested Economic Injury Disaster Loan assistance for small Wisconsin businesses and private, non-profit organizations to help alleviate the economic impacts of the COVID-19 outbreak.

Social distancing and self-isolation are critical steps in keeping the virus in check, Evers said, but it’s come at a cost for many non-profit organizations and privately-owned businesses.

“The loan assistance from SBA will help alleviate some of the financial burden and stress on our small businesses during this public health crisis,” Evers said. “We will continue to work with our federal partners, state officials, and stakeholders to ensure we are improving public safety and health while protecting our state economy.”

An Economic Injury Disaster Loan is a federal program that provides financial assistance of up to $2 million per applicant. The amount of the loan is dependent on the economic injury sustained to individual organizations and businesses. Interest rates are capped at 4 percent per year, with a loan term not to exceed 30 years.

Surveys of businesses over the past several days, as well as inquiries into our Joint Incident Command, illustrate that the COVID-19 outbreak has had a significant impact on a variety of businesses within Wisconsin, Ever said. Hardest hit, he said, are the hospitality, event hosting, and support industries, and small retail businesses dependent upon daily traffic.

It was not immediately known when Evers’ request would be answered.

On Thursday, Evers signed Executive Order #72 that directs the Dept. of Health Services to take “all necessary and appropriate measures to prevent and respond to incidences of COVID-19.” It allows DHS to purchase, store, or distribute appropriate medications, regardless of insurance or other health coverage, as needed to respond to the emergency. It also authorizes state funds to support local health departments with costs related to isolation and quarantine, as well as the use of the Wisconsin National Guard.