© 2024 WYPR
WYPR 88.1 FM Baltimore WYPF 88.1 FM Frederick WYPO 106.9 FM Ocean City
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

SBA doles out funds to keep businesses afloat following Key Bridge collapse

A few people trickle into an office building in East Baltimore to apply for the Economic Injury Disaster Loan. Business owners impacted by the Francis Scott Key Bridge collapse across Maryland and some counties in surrounding states, can apply for long-term loans of up to $2 million at 4% interest. They have 60 days to accept the loan.

The federal Small Business Administration (SBA) is working to get dollars to businesses impacted by last week’s bridge collapse. The agency has opened two recovery centers to help entrepreneurs apply for disaster loans. On Thursday, it announced a center will open at the Community College of Baltimore County (CCBC) Dundalk Campus, replacing the one at Dundalk Renaissance which will close permanently.

Vanessa Santiago, a spokeswoman for the SBA, said the government is offering a better deal than most banks. “You don't have to pay for the loan for the first year,” she said. “You don't have to pay interest for the first year, so it's very positive.”

Business owners can also apply online.

As of Wednesday, fewer than 100 people had applied in person. Financial experts say Maryland’s economy is losing millions of dollars daily, due to reduced port activity. That’s one reason Santiago urges those impacted, to apply now.

“Ask for help when you don't need it yet. It's like going to the supermarket when you're hungry. You don't make good decisions. But if you go to the supermarket and you ate, you can make better decisions,” she said.

Dundalk’s marine terminal is surrounded by breweries and restaurants that serve port workers.

Costas Triantafilos is the owner of Costas Inn, a crab shack that’s been in business since the Key Bridge was constructed in the 1970s. “You never come to this place without seeing me or a family member you know,” he said. Triantafilos told WYPR that he remembered serving meals to steelworkers who built the bridge.

For now, his son Nick, a general manager, said he doesn’t see a need to apply for the disaster loan. “We're blessed because I don't think we're gonna need any help here,” said the younger Triantafilos. “We're gonna be okay. But I'm glad that it's a venue that people can explore if they’re in trouble. A lot of places are gonna take hits, depending on how long the port is down.”

Just 10 days before the bridge collapsed, Alex Delsordo bought the Hard Yacht Cafe and Anchor Bay East Marina. “I was nervous,” he said. “You've had a group of owners for 37 years and here comes this 38-year-old man with a business partner. I thought they’d see me as an outsider.”

Delsordo thought he had a great plan, and he’s still confident, but wants to learn about the disaster loan, just in case. “Tomorrow I'll be sitting down with professionals,” he said. “I will be learning about how this could affect me and what the benefits are. But 4% at 30 years? That's a really great thing that we're being provided.”

No word on when the port will fully re-open, but authorities say they are working swiftly to get that done.

Wambui Kamau is a General Assignment Reporter for WYPR. @WkThee
Related Content