By Kent Hoover

The Small Business Administration extended its deadline for Sept. 11-related economic injury disaster loan applications until Sept. 30.

Small businesses around the nation that suffered substantial economic damage as a result of the terrorist attack or the federal government's response to it are eligible for the loans, which have an interest rate of 4 percent and a maximum term of 30 years. Businesses can apply for working capital loans of up to $1.5 million.

Almost half of the $800 million in disaster loans that the SBA has approved since Sept. 11 have gone to small businesses outside the disaster areas of New York City and Northern Virginia.

"With this extension, more companies will have access to the working capital they'll need to rebound and stay in business," SBA Administrator Hector Barreto says.

Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., chairman of the Senate Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee, had urged the SBA to extend the loan deadline, which expired May 22 for national businesses and was set to expire June 22 for Northern Virginia businesses.

"I'm glad the administration has finally reconsidered their position and agreed to give these businesses the rest of the summer to seek a federal lifeline," Kerry says. "Many small businesses across the country are still sorting things out and picking up the pieces -- no arbitrary bureaucratic deadline should prevent them from getting the help they need to keep their doors open."

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