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Gov. backs burned-out Hadley shops for federal aid

HADLEY — Gov. Deval Patrick has stepped in to seek federal assistance for several small Route 9 businesses destroyed by fire last month.

In a letter, Patrick asked the U.S. Small Business Administration to issue a declaration of economic injury for Hampshire County so low-interest loans can be made available to business owners affected by the fire at the Norwottuck Shoppes.

“The degree and severity of the economic injury and the lack of available financial assistance at reasonable rates and terms makes it necessary for federal involvement in the form of subsidized loans” from the Small Business Administration, part of Patrick’s letter reads.

A dozen businesses and two apartments were destroyed in the Oct. 27 blaze at 206 Russell St.

Hadley Town Administrator David Nixon said officials have been working to get the businesses access to low-interest loans since the fire.

Area civic and charitable organizations and area legislators have been “working with the victims of the fire to try and get them the resources they need,” Nixon said. “It’s been very gratifying to see the whole community rally around these businesses.”

Nixon said to allow businesses to access the loans, the governor had to declare an emergency, which was accomplished by his letter to the Small Business Association, a federal agency.

State Rep. John W. Scibak, D-South Hadley, said the affected businesses were important to many people in the region and any assistance that can be provided to them is appreciated.

“People may have driven by those businesses every day and taken them for granted,” Scibak said. “Those businesses really played a key role to people in this area.”

“It really is a loss for them and for the community at large,” Scibak said. “Anything we or the SBA can do is certainly well appreciated by the community.”

“The fire in Hadley has been devastating to several small business owners, and I am pleased to support the governor’s efforts to obtain federal help,” U.S. Rep. James McGovern, D-Worcester, said in a statement.

“I applaud the Patrick Administration for taking this step, and I will continue to work with them moving forward,” McGovern said.

In his letter, Patrick said a survey of the damage by the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency and local officials showed that six of the eight businesses surveyed would likely see a revenue loss of 40 percent or more compared to the same period last year due to the fire.

According to the survey, Mohawk Revenge Tattoo, the Chinese Kung Fu Wushu Academy, International Food Market, Casablanca Market and the Bahn Mi Saigon and Mi Tierra restaurants would see gross income losses between 78 and 82 percent from last year.

The dollar amounts of those projected losses range from $3,500 to $42,000, according to the survey.

Bontanica Ramsies, another business included in the survey, was scheduled to open the day after the fire and reported a complete loss of $30,000, according to the survey.

It’s estimated that each of the affected businesses listed in the survey will require about six months to be back up and running.

Fire investigators believe the fire started in the Hadley Coin-Op Laundromat, which was one of the oldest businesses at the Norwottuck Shoppes plaza, but they have not pinpointed its cause.

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