MS - Disaster loans: Closed Mississippi beaches hurt businesses

The federal agency says that in addition to coastal Hancock, Harrison and Jackson counties in Mississippi, the declaration covers adjacent counties and parishes.

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Low-interest disaster loans are available for small Mississippi businesses hurt by toxic bacteria that closed every mainland beach in the state during the summer. Those in adjacent counties in Mississippi, Alabama and Louisiana also are eligible.

The federal Small Business Administration can make the loans to small businesses, small agricultural cooperatives, small aquaculture businesses, and private nonprofit organizations, Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves said in a news release Friday.

From June 22 until early July, beach after beach was closed because of cyanobacteria, which can cause rashes, diarrhea and vomiting, and often are called blue-green algae.

The SBA said the loan program covers damage from June 22 through Oct. 5, when the state Department of Environmental Quality lifted advisories against entering or touching the water at all 21 beaches. In addition to coastal Hancock, Harrison and Jackson counties, the SBA said, the declaration covers adjacent George, Pearl River and Stone counties in Mississippi; Mobile County, Alabama, and St. Tammany Parish, Louisiana.

“The Mississippi Gulf Coast is a precious natural beauty, and the small businesses that call it home must be protected. Because what’s good for the Gulf Coast — and for small businesses — is good for all of Mississippi," Reeves said. He noted that former Gov. Phil Bryant began the work to get the loans.

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