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ST. LOUIS (AP) - Gov. Jay Nixon's office says the state has begun the process of seeking federal help for businesses damaged during protests over the fatal shooting of an unarmed 18-year-old by a police officer.

U.S. Sens. Claire McCaskill and Roy Blunt asked Nixon on Friday to consider seeking a Small Business Administration disaster declaration. The declaration would give affected businesses in Ferguson access to low-interest loans.

Blunt and McCaskill said many Ferguson businesses have "suffered significant physical damage" during unrest following the death of Michael Brown.

An SBA declaration requires the state to certify that a certain number of businesses have suffered economic loss. A Nixon spokesman says that state personnel have been assessing the damage and will assist with filling out the necessary forms, which will be forwarded with a letter from the governor.

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