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Flint businesses eligible for federal economic disaster loans

Feb 6, 2016

Credit Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Flint businesses are now able to apply for federal disaster loans.

But it may not be the help that some businesses need.

The Small Business Administration approved the governor’s economic disaster declaration on Friday.

“Approval of economic injury disaster loans will help business owners and nonprofits in Flint recover from any damages as a result of the water crisis,” Gov. Rick Snyder said in a written statement,  “We will continue to seek resources from all levels of government to help the people of Flint and appreciate the SBA’s partnership in our efforts.”

That may seem like good news to Flint businesses that need to replace equipment damaged during the city’s drinking water crisis.

But the SBA’s Michael Lampton says the low interest loans won’t help with that.

"They couldn’t just come directly to us and say, ‘I got this pipe that needs to be replaced.’ This is not a loan for physical apparatus,” says Lampton, “This is for economic injury.  This is for financial losses.”

The declaration also only covers a period going back to October 1st, 2015, when the state confirmed the presence of lead in Flint’s drinking water.

Flint’s drinking water problems date back to April, 2014, when the city’s tap water source was switched to the Flint River.  The water was not properly treated.  The result was corrosive river water damaged the city’s pipes and fixtures in individual homes and businesses.  The damaged pipes and fixtures started leaching lead into the drinking water.   Despite efforts to address the problem, lead continues to leach into the tap water.