SBA disaster loan center in Citrus Heights on Hiring Spree

From the Sacramento Bisness Journal:

By   – Staff Writer, Sacramento Business Journal

The Small Business Administration’s disaster assistance office in Citrus Heights is seeking to rapidly hire lenders, loan underwriters and attorneys to process economic injury loans.

The Citrus Heights office underwrites disaster loans for all states and territories west of the Mississippi.

“We are looking for loan officers, underwriters, paralegals, attorneys and all kinds of people,” said Burl Kelton, spokesman for the SBA disaster assistance program in Citrus Heights. “We need them to ramp up service.”

The SBA announced last week that as part of the effort to assist businesses through the COVID-19 outbreak, it is accepting applications for disaster assistance loans of up to $2 million.

The Citrus Heights office typically has about 80 employees, but it has office capacity for 300 more, and even more than that if they are working remotely, Kelton said. Many people in the office are currently working remotely if they choose to.

Kelton said he didn’t know how many people the agency is seeking in the current hiring rush.

“This is so different from the kind of disaster we usually do. We typically might see a half-dozen states at a time, with a county or two under disaster. Now we have most states declared.”

In the past, the SBA covered staffing needs with “reservists who are called up and we expand, but this is going to be something different.”

Since there is a statewide emergency declaration in California, nearly all California small businesses are eligible for an Economic Injury Disaster Loan, Kelton said, along with most states in the West.

“When we work, we work 12 hours a day, seven days a week. That’s the job,” said Cathleen Cockrum, a longtime local banker who retired from banking a decade ago and started doing disaster aid with the SBA after Hurricane Sandy in 2012. She signed up to work as a reservist for the SBA, and she’s working remotely, though she anticipates she may have to travel.

Resumes can be sent to the SBA online with the number 107565112 for attorneys, 10753859 for loan officers and 10755914 for loan assistants.

“We’re looking for a lot of people. This is an all-hands-on-deck event,” said Rick Jenkins, spokesman for the SBA disaster loan program.

All positions are full time and mandatory overtime should be expected and could be substantial, the SBA said in a job alert.

Loans from the SBA are not automatic, and businesses must apply and qualify for them. The terms run out to 30 years and they currently charge interest of 3.75% for for-profit small businesses and 2.75% for nonprofit organizations.

The SBA disaster loans are available for operating expenses, debt payments, payroll, inventory and business costs, Kelton said. It’s difficult to say how long it would take to get the loan, but it is a process that doesn’t start until a business applies, he said.

If business owners are seeking insurance claims or other compensation through programs, they should also at the same time apply for disaster loans.

The process of getting a disaster loan is similar to that of a conventional loan, and borrowers will need to be able to provide federal income tax records, ownership records and schedules of current debt, income and expenses. Application information is available online. Applicants may also call the SBA’s Customer Service Center at (800) 659-2955 or email

In other finance news, California Gov. Gavin Newsom in a news conference broadcast online Wednesday said the state is urging lenders to offer forbearance to businesses affected by COVID-19 that are unable to stay current in debt.

Newsom said US Bank, Wells Fargo Bank, Citibank and Chase Bank have all agreed to offer 90-day loan forbearance for small businesses that cannot make loan payments due to COVID-19.

Newsom said Bank of America committed to 30-day forbearance, and he is asking the bank to extend that to 90 days.