Kali Lee and co-worker Joy Mullins work the counter taking orders and creating the various coffee offerings at the Bean, located in the historic Fondren District in Jackson, Friday, Sept. 9, 2022. Credit: Vickie D. King/Mississippi Today

Gov. Tate Reeves asked the U.S. Small Business Administration to open low-interest disaster loans to Hinds County businesses hurt by the Jackson water crisis in a formal letter Monday. 

“Jackson businesses have been hit incredibly hard by the ongoing water crisis,” Reeves said in a statement. “They have shown their resilience and their commitment to this city throughout the years, and my administration will continue to do everything it can to support them during this difficult time.”

In his letter to the program’s director, Reeves outlined how businesses from daycares to restaurants had to shut down when they lost water pressure. Restaurants that have been open have had a major loss of customers while harboring extra expenses to buy clean water to keep their doors open. 

READ MORE: As Jackson water crisis persists, restaurateurs worry customers are scared to dine out

Some businesses also took on the costs of portable toilets when their own could not flush. Hotels, the governor mentioned, also have had a sharp decline in overnight stays. 

“Overall, with little to no running water throughout the city, businesses could not serve, clean, cool, or sanitize, forcing them to either suffer losses or temporarily shut down,” the letter says

In order to prove the county could qualify for the loan program, the governor’s office had to survey local businesses and show at least five small businesses “suffered substantial economic injury.” 

Restaurants and other affected businesses filled out paperwork about their costs and losses to Mississippi Emergency Management Agency, giving the governor the data needed to apply to the program. 

If activated, individual businesses could receive up to $2 million in SBA loans under the disaster program to help with expenses and obligations that could have been met had the water crisis not occurred. The loan amount a business can receive will be based on its economic injury and the company’s financial needs. 

The program’s interest rate does not exceed 4%. 

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