(Oct. 29, PACKER WEB EXCLUSIVE) Calif. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger directed the state’s Small Business Disaster Assistance Loan Guarantee Program to guarantee $7 million in loans for farms, agriculture-related businesses and business in communities that suffered damage or economic loss due to the wildfires in Southern California.

“These overwhelming wildfires have been extremely devastating, and I will do everything I can to help these communities recover,” Schwarzenegger said in an Oct. 25 news release. “This program will keep the economy moving by helping small businesses that may not qualify for federal aid and provide interim funding for those businesses waiting for federal assistance to arrive.”

The program provides guarantees to local lenders for loans made to small businesses and growers that suffer damage from disasters in order to prevent insolvencies and loss of employment in areas affected by a state of emergency, the release said.

The state will leverage $500,000 in existing funds to provide up to $7 million in loan guarantees to businesses affected by the wildfires.