The Pensacola-headquartered Florida SBDC Network, the state’s principal provider of business assistance, encourages small businesses impacted by Hurricane Michael to apply for assistance through the Florida Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan Program.
The program, activated Friday by Gov. Rick Scott, provides a source of expedient cash flow to small businesses physically and/or economically impacted by the storm.
Administered by the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO), in partnership with the Florida SBDC Network and Florida First Capital Finance Corporation (FFCFC), the Florida Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan is a short-term, interest-free working capital loan intended to help small businesses "bridge the gap" between the time of a declared disaster and when the business has secured long-term recovery resources.
DEO Executive Director Cissy Proctor said, "We know the first step to getting communities back on their feet is getting our business back on their feet. Hurricane Michael has brought devastation to the Florida Panhandle and DEO is working with these businesses to make sure they can recover and be successful."
Eligible businesses with two to 100 employees may apply for interest-free loans between $1,000 and $50,000 for up to one year. While the bridge loan is a source of expedient funds, it is not designed to be the primary source of assistance for affected small businesses. As part of the eligibility, businesses must indicate pursuit of other sources, including insurance claims and federal disaster assistance.
Businesses impacted by the storm are strongly encouraged to complete the state’s Business Damage Assessment Survey. The survey, administered by DEO, is not an application for disaster assistance, but rather assists state and federal officials in determining the extent of damage and need for federal disaster assistance.
Statewide with more than 40 locations from Pensacola to Key West, the Florida SBDC Network is a public-private partnership that leverages the resources of higher education and economic development to serve the needs of aspiring and existing small businesses. The mission of the Florida SBDC Network and SBDCs nationally is to provide the strategies, resources, and expertise to help small businesses grow and succeed.
As a principal responder in the state’s Emergency Support Function (ESF) 18 for Business & Industry, the Florida SBDC Network is a key economic development organization that supports disaster preparedness, recovery, and mitigation through its Business Continuation services.
Florida SBDC business consultants, many of whom are Disaster Recovery Institute (DRI) Certified Business Continuity Professionals, are available to assist small businesses prepare disaster loan applications and with other post-disaster challenges at no-cost.
Michael W. Myhre, CEO of the Florida SBDC Network, said, “We want our small business owners to know how important they are to our state and we are here to help walk them through the recovery process to get their employees back to work and growing their business.”
The application deadline is December 7, 2018. As part of the bridge loan process, applicants must submit their completed applications to their local Florida SBDC office. For more information, and to complete an application, please visit www.FloridaDisasterLoan.org.
For questions about the Florida Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan Program, please contact the Florida SBDC Network at (850) 898-3479, toll free at (866) 737-7232, or by email at Disaster@FloridaSBDC.org.