Maritime industry seeing the affects of the oil spill - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Maritime industry seeing the affects of the oil spill

HARRISON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) -

By Jessica Bowman – email

OCEAN SPRINGS, MS (WLOX) - The oil's presence in the Gulf hasn't just cut into the bottom line of Coast fishermen, but also those who sell goods and services to those fishermen. So, Governor Haley Barbour is turning to the Small Business Administration for help.

The Governor is asking the SBA make loans of up to $2 million available to businesses in Harrison and Jackson Counties. If the loans are granted, the money will be aimed at small coastal businesses and companies dependent on revenue from fishing and related industries that have suffered because of the oil spill.

Ocean Marine Group General Manager Jerry Adkerson said boats like the ones he sells are vital to local and commercial fisherman. But the Gulf oil leak has had a devastating impact on his business.

"Sales of new boats are down because people are just waiting, basically, to find out what the outcome of this is going to be," Adkerson said.

Even though oil has not yet reached the Mississippi shoreline, the maritime industry is suffering. Adkerson said compared to years prior, sales have dropped at least 70 percent. 

"Louisiana had been declared a disaster for the oil spill and was available to receive disaster loans from SBA. We learned also that counties of Hancock and Pearl River were included in that declaration, but not Jackson and Harrison County."

With coastal businesses directly affected economically, Governor Barbour is now asking the Small Business Administration for loans to be made available to businesses in Harrison and Jackson Counties, until normal operations can resume.

"It will make funds available for working capital for paying overhead and for loss of business and things that might occur during this time," Adkerson said.

According to the SBA, Economic Injury Disaster Loans can be up to $2 million. That money is payable over 30 years at a four percent interest rate.

"Right now, what's hurting business so much is the unknown, and all the fear and perception even though we don't have any oil."

If these loans are approved, Adkerson said he hopes it will get them through this period of uncertainty.

Governor Barbour has also requested the SBA temporarily suspend loan re-payments for Mississippi Coastal businesses affected by the oil spill that have 2005 or 2008 SBA disaster loans as a result of Hurricanes Katrina and Gustav.

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