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Local businesses hurt by bridge closing

"Getting businesses money to help them cope with the loss of this transportation link is critical, as is making sure that the impact on their workforces is minimized," said Economic, Housing and Community Development Commissioner, Tayt Brooks.

There are two loan programs operated by the U.S. Small Business Administration that could help businesses. The first is the American Recovery Capital program that provides no-interest loans of up to $35,000 from private banks that are 100 percent guaranteed by the SBA.

The money can be used to pay existing loans, including credit card debt used in the business. To be eligible the business must have been in business two years and must have been profitable in one of the last two years.

The other loan is an Economic Injury Disaster Loan, which provides low-interest loans of up to $2 million to help small businesses, small agricultural cooperatives and most private, non-profit organizations of all sizes meet their financial obligations.

To access the loan, the governor must certify to the SBA that at least five businesses have been harmed by the disaster, and the business must have applied for a standard bank loan and been rejected.

Local farmers have been affected by the Champlain Bridge closing.

The Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets reports that they are in contact with the farmers and are working with other agriculture related agencies and organizations to provide assistance wherever possible.

"This transportation disruption that impacted some farmers who have been separated from their crops and their heard," Secretary Roger Allbee reported. "A team is hard at work along with local officials, helping each farmer address their unique challenges."

Vermont Emergency Management (VEM) has coordinated with Vermont 211 and encourages Vermonters to dial 211 for more information about the programs mentioned above. "Vermonters with questions about programs, services, and alternative transportation options should call Vermont 211 for the latest information," said Barb Farr, director of VEM.

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