Snyder seeks economic disaster declaration for Flint

Candice Williams
The Detroit News

Gov. Rick Snyder said he requested an economic disaster declaration Thursday from the U.S. Small Business Administration to obtain financial assistance for Flint residents and business owners affected by lead-contaminated water in the city.

“While we continue to coordinate resources from all levels to ensure the health and welfare of Flint residents, we must also recognize that some Flint-area businesses have been impacted by this water emergency,” Snyder said in a statement. “An SBA disaster declaration can help ensure that those businesses have access to federally subsidized loans.”

If an economic disaster declaration is approved for Genesee County and the city of Flint, the SBA disaster assistance program will provide low-interest loans for small businesses and private nonprofit organizations that “suffered substantial economic injury as a direct result of the contaminated public water supply,” according to Snyder’s request.

Loan repayments would be tailored to the borrower’s financial capability.

Snyder’s request comes a month after he declared a state of emergency on Jan. 5 for Genesee County. That action made available the state’s resources to help with local recovery efforts. On Jan. 28, the state of emergency was extended until April 14.

On Jan. 21, President Barack Obama promised $80 million in aid to Michigan to help repair Flint’s water infrastructure.

Small-business owners in Flint have said they are hurting from the water crisis, partly because residents and visitors have been afraid to eat in restaurants.

Last week, Democratic members of Michigan’s congressional delegation urged Snyder to request disaster loans through the federal SBA.

At the time, the lawmakers wrote: “It is critical that you prioritize this request for a disaster declaration, so that all of our constituents can assess whether a disaster loan is appropriate for their home, business or organization and submit their applications.”

They continued by saying that the loans would not “cure all of the economic ills impacting Flint, but they can be helpful components of a broader recovery strategy.”

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