In brief | Island Inc. | 9-1-14


3 weeks left to apply for SBA disaster loans

The deadline for small, nonfarm business to apply for an Economic Injury Disaster Loan from the U.S. Small Business Administration is Sept. 15. These loans are to offset economic losses because of reduced revenues to farmers and ranchers caused by the drought that began Jan. 1 in Hawaii and Maui counties.

Small, nonfarm businesses, small agricultural cooperatives, small businesses engaged in aquaculture and most private, nonprofit organizations of any size may qualify for loans of up to $2 million to help meet financial obligations and operating expenses which could have been met had the disaster not occurred.

“Eligibility for these loans is based on the financial impact of the disaster only and not on any actual property damage. These loans have an interest rate of 4 percent for businesses and 2.62 percent for private, nonprofit organizations, a maximum term of 30 years, and are available to small businesses and most private, nonprofits without the financial ability to offset the adverse impact without hardship,” Tanya Garfield, director of SBA’s Disaster Field Operations Center - West, said.

Businesses primarily engaged in farming or ranching are not eligible for assistance. Agricultural enterprises should contact the Farm Services Agency about the U. S. Department of Agriculture assistance. In drought disasters, nurseries are eligible for SBA disaster assistance. Visit disasterloan.sba.gov/ela.

For information and application forms call SBA’s Customer Service Center at 800-659-2955 or email disastercustomerservice@sba.gov. Individuals who are deaf or hard‑of‑hearing may call 800-877-8339. For more information, visit sba.gov/disaster.

Island food producers gain access to business capital

A new no-interest loan program is available for Hawaii Island farmers and food producers, in an effort to increase food production, reduce dependence on imports and strengthen island businesses.

The Kohala Center, with support from the county, has created the Hawaii Island Food Producers Fund. The fund provides interest-free loans to farmers and value-added food producers through Kiva Zip, a pilot program of microlending website Kiva.org.

In 2014, lenders supported more than 200 farmers and food producers nationwide through Kiva Zip.

Kiva Zip relies on social capital and considers factors such as a borrower’s character and trust network — rather than their credit score, collateral or cash flows — in making underwriting decisions. Lenders collectively “crowdfund” entrepreneurs and small businesses that are typically excluded from conventional lending avenues and have significant social impact potential.

In 2013, Adaptations Inc. owner Tane Datta received a $2,500 loan from Kiva Zip to finance a new roof on a greenhouse that had deteriorated. The money was raised in four days from 74 people across the globe. Datta then approached the Agriculture Advisory Commission, Mayor Billy Kenoi, Office of Research and Development and The Kohala Center to explore Kiva Zip as an avenue to stimulate local food production.

The Hawaii Island Food Producers Fund matches Kiva Zip loans dollar for dollar through a grant from the county. Farmers and food processors using at least one Hawaii-grown ingredient are eligible for the program. The fund will revolve with Kiva Zip until exhausted, allowing the county’s initial grant of $25,000 to generate up to $275,000 in loans to area food producers.

Individuals and organizations can support food producers by becoming Kiva Zip lenders or trustees. Kiva Zip requires borrowers to have a trustee who can publicly vouch for the borrower’s character and support their business throughout the loan term. Trustees have no financial or legal liability for loans.

To become a lender, go to zip.kiva.org/loans. Interested trustees should visit zip.kiva.org/trustees. For more information about the fund, go to kohalacenter.org/microloan-kiva.

— NEW BUSINESS —

Tropics Ale House opens in Waikoloa Beach Resort area

Tropics Ale House opened in August, adding an new dining option in the Waikoloa Beach Resort area. Featuring “gourmet pub fare,” the restaurant overlooks the Waikoloa Beach Course, with 24 local and craft brews on tap, 10 TVs for sports action, a fresh pub menu and daily “chalkboard” specials.

Locally operated by managing partners Brian Flynn and Sergio Villalobos, Tropics Ale House, in the former Buzz’s Sand Trap location, is a project of Hawaii restaurateur Pat Kashani, who also runs Tropics Tap House and Auntie Pasto’s in Honolulu, My Big Fat Greek restaurants in Arizona and 15 other locations nationwide.

Chef Keola Valdez and his crew make fare including burger sliders, beer-battered french onion rings with Swiss cheese and gravy, and the romaine “wedge” salad. Their thin-crust pizzas are made with fresh dough, served in classic or creative combinations, as well as vegetarian and gluten-free options.

For more information, call 886-4287 or find Tropics Ale House on Facebook.

Hawaii agriculture magazine launched

Five Big Island farmers and landowners recently launched Farmers &Friends. The magazine-style monthly provides news, commentary and in-depth feature articles to inform and support Hawaii’s agricultural community. The publication has a companion website: farmersandfriends.org.

Farmers &Friends was jointly founded by William Walter of W.H. Shipman, Ltd., Richard Ha of Hamakua Springs Country Farms, Eric Tanouye of Green Point Nurseries, David Rietow of Agro Resources Inc., and Eric Weinert of Calavo Growers Inc.

The annual subscription price for the e-publication is $41.67.

The first edition features articles about chef Peter Merriman, Bruce Anderson’s work to grow oysters at Kualoa Ranch, and a look at the citrus greening contagion affecting orange growers in Florida.

Editor Rory Flynn has long been involved in work supporting island agriculture. His articles have appeared in Ka‘u Landing, Hawaii Reporter, Honolulu Star-Bulletin and the literary magazine of Johns Hopkins University.

Ex-Honolulu Advertiser reporter Joan Namkoong is a contributing feature writer. Instrumental in the growth of farmers markets on Oahu and Hawaii Island, she is the author of four books on island cuisine.