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HAGATNA, Guam (Pacific Daily News, June 5) - For many Guam
businesses, Supertyphoon Pongsona in December served as a wake-up call to harden
stores, warehouses and other commercial structures against destructive forces of

But with the island's weak economy and the recent tax increases
that raised the cost of doing business, finding money to buy typhoon shutters,
strengthen roofs, or relocate from a flood-prone area can be a problem.

But Guam small businesses may find financial assistance for
disaster prevention through the U.S. Small Business Administration.

The agency is offering a pilot program in which small businesses
may borrow up to $50,000 to protect their property by taking specific measures
to prevent disaster damage.

Under the pilot program, applications can be accepted during the
application filing period only, which begins June 16 and ends July 16, 2003,
according to an SBA announcement.

The interest rate is fixed at 2.953 percent, with loan terms up
to a maximum of 30 years, the SBA announced.

Alfred E. Judd, area director of SBA's Sacramento Disaster
Office, which serves the Western United States, said some mitigation examples
are roof tie-downs, elevating flood-prone structures and retrofitting buildings.

"Doing so will avoid future catastrophic losses, protect
business owners from financial ruin and save taxpayers from subsidizing huge
disaster assistance costs in years to come," Judd said in an SBA news

June 5, 2003

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