Merced's business recovery center opens as residents rebuild

Saturday, February 18, 2023
Merced's business recovery center opens as residents rebuild
Many Merced County businesses are still working to rebuild after last month's storms and now they'll have better access to recovery services.

MERCED COUNTY, Calif. (KFSN) -- After the relentless January storms, many businesses on Cooper Avenue in Merced are back on their feet but, still picking up the pieces.

Clear Choice Custodial Services employees were still cleaning nearly five weeks after the storms. The offices and warehouses had three feet of flood water.

The general manager Jack Mobley says despite the damage, the high waters did not impact business operations.

"You can't stop and cry about it, you just have to put one foot in front of the other and go on," Mobley says.

On Friday, the U.S. Small Business Administration opened its Business Recovery Center at the Downtown Campus Center in Merced.

Providing a range of services to not only businesses impacted by the winter storms, but also homeowners and renters who declared disasters.

To get businesses back up and running, the SBA is offering low-interest loans.

"It's nice if you don't have the cash or the reserves to replace the equipment and pay your employees when they can't work," Mobley says. "If you don't have that I can understand maybe having to lean on the SBA or FEMA but then you got money that you have to pay back and that's just never really a good option."

Up the road, crews were also busy renovating Modern Air's offices.

President Mark Cauwels says while he appreciates the local, state and federal resources. His main focus is getting permits to rebuild.

"We are fortunate enough to get this done and not have to tap into a note to fix it," Cauwels says.

The downtown center is open and you don't need an appointment for the free service.

An SBA Spokesperson says businesses do not have to be small to receive disaster recovery assistance.

"It doesn't matter how small or big it is, every community when they are impacted they need to recover and the sooner they recover, the easier and better it's going to be for the community to recover as a whole," SBA spokesperson Javier Caltenco says.

The deadline to apply for loans is 60 days from the declared disaster.

For news updates, follow Brittany Jacob on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.