Florida SBDC Network Stands Ready to Help Businesses Apply, Navigate Recovery Challenges
Florida SBDC Network Headquarters (Pensacola, Fla.) – Small businesses impacted by Hurricane Michael in 14 eligible counties now have until the end of the month to apply for the Florida Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan program.
Activated by the Governor and administered by the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) in partnership with the Florida SBDC Network and Florida First Capital Finance Corporation, the bridge loan is a short-term, interest-free loan program designed to help small businesses bridge the gap until long-term recovery resources, such as insurance claims or federal assistance, are available.
The program deadline was recently extended until December 31, 2018 for small businesses in the following counties: Bay, Calhoun, Franklin, Gadsden, Gulf, Holmes, Jackson, Jefferson, Leon, Liberty, Okaloosa, Wakulla, Walton, and Washington.
Under the program, small businesses with fewer than two employees, including self-employed businesses, may apply for loans up to $25,000. Small business owners with two to 100 employees can apply for loans up to $50,000 and, in special circumstances, may be eligible for a loan up to $100,000.
These loans are interest-free for up to one year. To be eligible, a business must have been established prior to October 7, 2018, be located in one of the 14 state-declared disaster counties, and demonstrate economic injury or physical damage as a result of Hurricane Michael.
The Florida Small Business Development Center (SBDC) Network, the state’s principal provider of small business assistance, stands ready to help small businesses impacted by Hurricane Michael apply for the emergency bridge loan and disaster loans through the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) at no cost.
As part of its service offering, 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.
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.
Businesses in affected counties are encouraged to complete a Business Damage Assessment Survey online at FloridaDisaster.biz. Response to the damage assessment is not an application for assistance, so businesses that fill out the survey and are interested in the bridge loan program must fill out a bridge loan application as well.
For more information on state and federal disaster loans, please visit www.FloridaSBDC.org/disaster.
For questions about the loan programs and how the Florida SBDC can help, please contact the Florida SBDC Network at (850) 898-3479, toll-free at (866) 737-7232, or by email at Disaster@FloridaSBDC.org.