When a landslide blocked all road access to the community of Lowell Point, just south of Seward, last spring, it hit businesses hard. Now, the deadline is approaching for those businesses to apply for a loan from the Small Business Administration to help offset the economic impacts of the landslide.
The loans, called Economic Injury Disaster loans, can be up to $2 million, and can go to any small non-farm businesses or nonprofits. There’s a loan interest rate of about 2.935% for business and 1.875% for nonprofits.
One business that’s applying for the loan is Miller’s Landing in Lowell Point — a campground, fishing charter business and event space.
In the spring of 2022, co-owner Chance Miller was gearing up for a big summer.
“We had a very successful year in 2021, and so going into 2022, we wanted to be ready for it. We hired a different management team, we restructured, we made big investments,” he said. “And then we had the landslide happen.”
Miller said the company lost between $500 and $600 thousand as a result of the landslide.
Even after the road partially reopened just before Memorial Day and fully reopened mid-June, many visitors were just too anxious to make the trip out. He said signage and the visible damage to the hillside didn’t help.
“People are nervous,” he said. “The story’s still fresh in people’s minds.”
Miller’s Landing started offering a free water taxi service to get people to and from Lowell Point while the road was closed. And while it kept their 40 employees busy, it didn’t bring in any money.
Eventually, Miller said, the state paid the company about $100 thousand for the service. Still, it was a tough summer. He described this past fall as the tightest season in more than 40 years of business.
“It doesn’t seem like much, but when you have a 90 day season, 100 day season, and you lose 30 days of it, that’s a big deal,” he said. “And it directly relates to our bottom line.”
Miller said that while he is applying for the SBA loan, he hopes he’ll never actually have to spend the money. But he wants to be more safe than sorry if something devastating happens again.
The application is due April 12.
According to the SBA, federal disaster loans are available in the Kenai Peninsula Borough, Kodiak Island Borough, Lake and Peninsula Borough, Matanuska-Susitna Borough and the Municipality of Anchorage. You can visit https://disasterloanassistance.sba.gov/ to apply.
— to www.kdll.org