FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, October 12, 2005

GOVERNOR BARBOUR SIGNS SMALL BUSINESS
BRIDGE LOAN LEGISLATION

Governor Also Signs House Bills 20 and 43

(Jackson, Miss.)– Governor Haley Barbour today signed House Bill 41 which will allow Mississippi small businesses most impacted by Hurricane Katrina to access $25 million in zero-interest short-term loans. The Mississippi Development Authority has asked the State Bond Commission for $25 million in order to initiate the program.

“I am grateful to the Legislature for passing this important legislation to help our small businesses get back on their feet,” Governor Barbour said. “Many have been obliterated or severely damaged by Hurricane Katrina, and this legislation is vital to helping them survive and continue operations.”

“We expect to have the Disaster Bridge Loan Program up and running within days,” announced Leland Speed, MDA Executive Director.

Howard McMillan, former president of Deposit Guaranty National Bank, was appointed by the Governor to direct the disaster loan program and will work at no charge to the state. “We are grateful that the Governor and Legislature approved this important loan program to help damaged Mississippi small businesses bridge the gap until they receive insurance settlements, SBA disaster loans or other financing,” McMillan said. “We would like to thank the many banks, savings and loans, and credit unions that will make this program successful,” McMillan added.

The loan program will first open in 11 emergency declaration counties: Covington, Forrest, Hancock, Harrison, Jackson, Jefferson Davis, Jones, Lamar, Marion, Pearl River and Stone. Governor Barbour has asked the federal government to match the State’s $25 million investment in the loan fund. As additional funds become available and updated damage assessments warrant, loans may be made available in additional
counties. Applications will be accepted until November 18th. This deadline may be extended subject to availability of funds.
Mississippi-owned small businesses in the designated counties must meet the following criteria to be eligible for disaster bridge loans:
• Be in business with two to 100 employees at least one year prior to August 29, 2005;
• Have physical damage from the Hurricane;
• Will restart or maintain business operations in the same county;
• Need the loan proceeds to restart or maintain a viable business; and
• Will use insurance or other loan proceeds to repay the loan.

Disaster Bridge Loans will be made to individuals who are at least 51% owners of the business and are Mississippi residents. Mississippi controlled non-profit corporations may also apply. Only one loan will be allowed per individual and/or business. Loan terms can be either 90 or 180 days at an interest rate of zero.
Eligible small business owners should contact their local financial institution for an application. They can also obtain applications directly from the MDA website at www.mississippi.org or at an MDA Business Assistance Center:

Bay St Louis
Coast Electric Conference Center
U. S. Highway 90 and Main Street
Biloxi
Gulf Coast Business Technology Center
1636 Pops Ferry Road
Picayune Arizona Chemical Company
815 N. Beech Street
Gautier Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College
Building N, Room 202

Completed applications should be taken to a participating local financial institution which will submit the application to the local loan committee appointed by MDA. The local loan committee will include three local lenders, one local economic development official, and one MDA representative.

In addition to signing the disaster bridge loan legislation, Governor Barbour also signed House Bill 43, which authorizes the bond commission to obtain a $500 million line of credit and suspend provisions requiring cuts to agency budgets during FY 06; and House Bill 20, which waives out-of-state tuition for non-resident evacuees of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

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Governor Haley Barbour
P.O. Box 139 Jackson, MS 39205
Phone: 601.359.3150 Fax: 601.359.3741
         

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