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County won't get chunk of aid for crop freeze

By Cornelia de Bruin

Triplicate staff writer

U.S. Small Business Administration plans to help Northcoast small businesses affected by the recent freeze won't include Del Norte County.

The administration will make low-interest loans available to Humboldt and Trinity counties, however.

The administration's declarations were based on information sent to it by the governor, SBA spokesman Ben Raju said.

"It was based on Gov. (Arnold) Schwarzenegger's request," Raju said. "He named the counties he sought help for, and we granted them all."

Schwarzenegger made his plea for help Jan. 22.

The SBA disaster declaration makes loans available to small, non-farm businesses that sustained damage from the freeze or because of freeze damage such as citrus crops.

The freeze freeze likely harmed Del Norte's Easter lily crop and may have negatively affected dairy production, county agriculture officials say.

Alfred Judd, director of SBA's Disaster Field Operations Center-West, the administration will offer working capital loans of up to $1.5 million at 4 percent interest with terms up to 30 years.

Other eligible small businesses include those who deal directly with growers or other agricultural producers, such as packing houses, truckers and suppliers of agriculture equipment and services. They also include diners, gas stations and small grocery stores.

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