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      Drought relief for small businesses

      Nonfarm businesses and not-for-profit groups hurt by the drought could be eligible for some federal help.Missouri businesses directly harmed by the summer heat and drought can get low-interest loans through the U.S. Small Business Administration.Small nonfarm businesses, agricultural cooperatives and nonprofit organizations are eligible for up to $2 million for expenses caused by the drought. The deadline for loans is March and applications can be submitted online at disasterloan.sba.gov/ela.The U.S. Department of Agriculture has declared a disaster for 114 Missouri counties, making farmers eligible for low-interest loans and other assistance.The National Weather Service reports that St. Louis had the warmest July on record and the eighth driest. Last month was tied for the fourth warmest July in Columbia and the 23rd driest.The Associated Press contributed to this story.The following is the release from the state:

      JEFFERSON CITY ?? The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) is making low-interest disaster loans available to small, nonfarm businesses in all 114 Missouri counties and the City of St. Louis because of the prolonged heat and drought gripping the state, Gov. Jay Nixon said today. The Economic Injury Disaster Loans from the SBA are available because of the statewide agricultural disaster declaration issued by the U.S. Department of Agriculture at the Governor??s request.

      ??We??ve already taken extraordinary steps to help farmers and livestock producers who have suffered severe losses because of the heat and drought,?? Gov. Nixon said. ??These loans through the SBA can help other businesses that also have been impacted directly by this disaster, or that depend on the farmers who have been hit hard.??

      According to the SBA, small, nonfarm businesses; small agricultural cooperatives; small businesses engaged in aquaculture, and most private, non-profit organizations of any size may qualify for loans of up to $2 million to help meet financial obligations and operating expenses which could have been met if the disaster had not occurred. The disaster declaration issued earlier this month by the USDA makes farmers and ranchers eligible for low-interest federal loans from the Farm Service Agency.

      Applicants may apply online using the Electronic Loan Application (ELA) via SBA??s secure Web site at https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela.

      Disaster loan information and application forms are also available from SBA??s Customer Service Center by calling SBA toll-free at (800) 659-2955, emailing disastercustomerservice@sba.gov, or visiting SBA??s Web site at www.sba.gov/services/disasterassistance. Hearing-impaired individuals may call (800) 877-8339.

      The deadline to apply for these loans is March 18, 2013.