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U.S. Small Business Administration Among Sources of Help Following Tornado


 Sense of Community Series 30 June

For KSMU’s Sense of Community Series, I’m Mike Smith. 

It’s been 1 month, 1 week and 1 day since an EF-5 tornado with winds in excess of 200 mph tore through business and residential areas of Joplin Missouri.  Over 150 lives were lost in the May 22nd storm which also injured hundreds more.

Right after the deadly storm struck Joplin, a great number and variety of relief efforts sprang forth, many of which were and continue to be targeted to specific needs like food water and shelter; pet care, debris removal and business recovery.  

According to Rob O’Brian, President of the Joplin Area Chamber of Commerce, the tornado damaged or destroyed over 7000 housing units along with nearly 500 businesses in its path.  He says:  We have about 1000 business members in the JACC, 200 of which were affected by the tornado.  That still leaves hundreds more affected and we want to make sure the entire business base is stable and in a position to move forward in the years ahead.  O’Brian says the JACC encourages those whose businesses were damaged by the tornado to apply for a U.S. Small Business Administration Disaster Loan before the July 8th deadline. 

Kevin Wynne is a PIO with the SBA’s Office of Disaster Assistance.  On the phone with KSMU from Joplin, he says the loans serve as the primary source of money to pay for repair or replacement costs not fully covered by insurance or other compensation.  He says SBA can offer disaster loans to home owners, renters, businesses of all sizes and private non profit organizations.  For businesses, we offer up to $2 million dollars to replace property damaged during the disaster and that would include machinery and equipment, fixtures, inventory and the like.  The interest rate for business is 4% and if you take that to 30 years, it becomes quite affordable, and you should know within 10-14 days if you will get the SBA loan.

Brian Carpenter of I-3 Technology Group says:  There is going to come a time when this is going to get worse before it gets better and these business owners will have to be pro-active instead of re-active.  Carpenter is about as pro-active as a Joplin business owner can be.  I-3 Technology Group was the very first Joplin business to apply for and receive a SBA Disaster Loan.  In Carpenter’s case it’s an Economic Injury Disaster Loan or EIDL.

EIDL’s can be awarded to businesses which suffer no physical damage to buildings or operations, but whose customer base or line of supply is damaged or destroyed.  I-3 Technology Group installs and maintains video surveillance units and phone systems for area schools, business and medical offices, rental units and homes many of which were damaged or destroyed in the tornado.  Carpenter estimates a 20-30% drop in revenue for I-3 Tech with the loss of these businesses and buildings.

Carpenter has nothing but praise for the SBA and its disaster relief programs.  He encourages others affected by the tornado to see how they too can get assistance from the SBA and other sources in getting back to business.  Carpenter himself chairs a JACC initiative, the Joplin Business Recovery Fund, through which all proceeds will targeted to help area businesses affected by the storm.

Other organizations providing disaster relief funding and other assistance for businesses and the work force affected by the storm include the U.S. Department of Labor; the Missouri Career Center; Joplin Tomorrow at and the Community Foundation of the Ozarks at          

For KSMU’s Sense of Community Series, I’m Mike Smith.