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Small Business Administration leader visits businesses impacted by bridge collapse

By Kim Dacey

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    BALTIMORE (WBAL) — Small businesses are feeling the impact of the Francis Scott Key Bridge collapse.

On Thursday, Small Business Administration officials visited Baltimore to meet with business owners affected by the disaster.

Administrator Isabel Casillas Guzman said since Monday, the SBA has filed more than 500 applications for small businesses impacted. They are committed to helping for the long haul.

“This is a unique, very economically impactful disaster,” Guzman said.

She visited Canton to see the Disaster Recovery Assistance Center for herself. Alongside area leaders, she met with small business owners to discuss their needs.

“We heard their concerns and they’re desperate, and we need to do everything we can to remain in business until we can get the port fully operating,” Maryland U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin said.

Many businesses, like transportation companies, rely 100% on the Port of Baltimore for their revenue. This type of economic disaster has a ripple effect.

“It’s people who depended on the employees of the port for their everyday main street businesses. It’s businesses that relied on the interconnectedness of commerce from the Francis Scott Key Bridge connecting neighborhoods, connecting communities. So, we know that this is going to be a long-term effort for the SBA to be on the ground and work with those businesses over multiple months,” Guzman said.

Businesses have until the end of the year to apply for loans online or in person, but the SBA can also offer expert advice on how to tap into alternate revenue streams in the meantime.

Guzman urged small businesses to take advantage of those resources in the Dundalk or Canton office.

“Meet with some of our advisors at our small business development centers. Connect to our network. We have centers and resource partners around the state who can help you with your business needs,” she said.

Guzman said businesses will start seeing the loan money in a few weeks.

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