LUMBERTON — With a modest army of blue-shirted Small Business Administration employees and public relations people in her wake, Linda McMahon, administrator of the federal agency, visited Lumberton on Tuesday.
Her visit was to help highlight that the SBA will issue about $1 billion in loans as part of the recovery from Hurricane Florence, whose damages might reach $22 billion.
McMahon’s first stop, after spending the morning in South Carolina, was at Robeson Community College’s Workforce Development Center, where the SBA’s Business Recovery Center processes business, homeowner’s and renter’s loan applications. During her tour of the Small Business Center, where SBA administrators work, McMahon met with RCC officials, including President Kimberly Gold, and two loan applicants.
“We’ve been busy,” said Carl Dombek, an SBA administrator. “After Florence, we’ve already approved $88.5 million in loans to 2,241 clients in North Carolina.”
Business owners who obtained SBA loans after Hurricane Matthew and got flooded again, “need to come see us, and they may qualify for a loan deferral,” said Tamin Choudhury, of the SBA.
McMahon was making her second visit to the Carolinas after Hurricane Florence. The first was with President Donald Trump. She said the circumstances are unfortunate.
“I want to make sure the SBA is doing the work needed to get businesses and homeowners back on their feet,” McMahon said. “The sooner we get businesses up and running, the sooner communities can heal.”
The SBA administrator also is keeping an eye on Hurricane Michael, which is bearing down on the Florida Panhandle. It is expected to dump more rain and bring damaging rains to the county late Wednesday and throughout Thursday.
“I have a call into to Gov. Rick Scott to make sure we are ready,” McMahon said. “Unfortunately, it appears to be headed to the Carolinas also.”
Business loans may be granted up to $2 million, homeowners up to $200,000 and renters up to $40,000.
McMahon met with Lumberton Mayor Bruce Davis after visiting RCC. She headed for Whiteville after leaving Lumberton.
The SBA’s Business Recovery Center at RCC is open six days a week from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. A second office at the Soaring Eagle Center in Clybourn Pines, outside of Lumberton, also is open on Sundays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Scott Bigelow can be reached by email at email@example.com.