Florida SBDC Network Headquarters (Pensacola, Fla.) – Florida small businesses impacted by the Coronavirus (COVID-19) may now apply for short-term, interest-free loans through the Florida Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan program.
The purpose of the loan program, which was activated yesterday by Governor DeSantis, is to help business owners bridge the gap between the time the economic impact occurred and when a business secures other longer-term resources, such as insurance proceeds or federal disaster assistance through the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA).
“As we mitigate against the spread of COVID-19, the health, safety and well-being of Floridians comes first,” said Governor DeSantis. “I understand the harm mitigation strategies will have on small businesses throughout our state. By activating the Florida Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan, we are providing the opportunity for Florida’s small businesses to receive cash immediately to ensure they can lessen the impacts felt as a result of COVID-19.”
Through the program, qualified small businesses with two to 100 employees affected by COVID-19 can apply for loans up to $50,000 for one-year terms. To be eligible, a business must be located in Florida, have been established prior to March 9, 2020, and demonstrate economic injury as a result of the virus.
The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) administers the Florida Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan Program in partnership with the Florida SBDC Network and Florida First Capital Finance Corporation. Governor DeSantis has allocated up to $50 million for the program.
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 through the loan application process and with other COVID-19-related challenges at no-cost.
“Mitigating the spread of COVID-19 in Florida must be our number one priority,” said Florida SBDC Network CEO, Mike Myhre. “The Florida SBDC Network stands ready to assist Governor DeSantis and the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity in helping small businesses recover from the impacts of COVID-19.”
DEO is currently surveying businesses throughout the state of Florida who have been impacted by COVID-19. Businesses and non-profits can access the Business Damage Assessment survey at FloridaDisaster.BIZ Select “COVID-19” from the drop-down menu on the survey page. Response to the Business Damage Assessment survey is not an application for assistance. Businesses interested in the bridge loan program must fill out a bridge loan application.
To complete an application by the May 8, 2020 deadline, and for more information about the program, please visit www.floridadisasterloan.org.
For questions regarding the program and for loan application assistance, please contact the Florida SBDC office nearest you at www.FloridaSBDC.org/locations or contact the Florida SBDC Network Headquarters office at 866-737-7232 or email Disaster@FloridaSBDC.org. The phone line will be answered during regular business hours; all voice mails and emails will be responded to within 24 hours.