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Washington, D.C. - U.S. Senator Mike Enzi said that small businesses in Northern Wyoming suffering from the effects of an ongoing drought may be eligible for loans that could help them meet normal operating expenses.

Small businesses in Big Horn, Campbell, Crook, Park, Sheridan and Teton counties can now apply for low interest Economic Injury Disaster Loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) to help them meet installments on long-term debt, accounts payable and overhead expenses that would have been met had the drought not occurred. The deadline for filing an application is January 29, 2002.

Many farmers and ranchers have experienced losses and are not able to purchase goods and services from local small businesses at normal levels. This has affected businesses through decreased sales, reduced gross profit margins, increased accounts receivable and difficulty in moving inventories at normal levels.

The loan is designed for those businesses considered to be a small business by SBA standards, 500 employees or less, and which have substantial disaster-related needs. The loan is intended to supplement monies the business owner can provide from other sources and may be up to $1.5 million for actual disaster-related financial needs.

Small business owners in these counties interested in obtaining an application or more information can call the SBA at 1-800-366-6303 or TDD 817-267-4688 for the hearing impaired.

Farmers and ranchers in these counties are not eligible for loans through the SBA, but may be eligible for low-interest emergency loans from local Farm Service Agencies (FSA). Teton County residents should call the Afton farm loan office at 307-886-9001, Northern Big Horn County and Park County residents should call the Powell farm loan office at 307-754-9411, Southern Big Horn County residents should call the Worland farm loan office at 307-347-2456, and Campbell, Crook and Sheridan county residents should call the Gillette farm loan office at 307-682-8842.