COVID-19 Business Disaster Recovery Assistance

Frequently Asked Questions

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Can I drop off or mail in my bridge loan application?

If you are an eligible small business, you must now submit your application and required support documentation for the Florida Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan (EBL) to the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) online. Click here to complete your online application.

If I previously submitted my bridge loan application by email or mailed in a hard copy, do I have to submit another application online?

If you have already submitted an application by email or hard copy through mail or courier, please do not submit another application through the online system. Your application will be entered into the online system by Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO). You will be receiving an email notification on the next steps you will need to take.

Who should I contact to find out about the status of my bridge loan application or if I have a question about the loan program?

To find out the status of your bridge loan application or for questions about the loan program, please contact the DEO toll-free at 833-832-4494 or email FloridaBusinessLoanFund@deo.myflorida.com.

Who should I contact for assistance with completing my Bridge Loan application?

For assistance completing your bridge loan, please contact the Florida SBDC office nearest you by clicking here.

Due to the widespread impact COVID-19 has created, we are receiving an extraordinarily high volume of inquiries and doing our best to provide the highest level of personalized service to every request received. If you get voicemail, please leave a message and be patient with us as we work through our backlog and respond to your request for assistance.

The online bridge loan site is crashing when I try to log on and/or complete my application. What should I do?

We suggest that you attempt to complete and submit your application during non-business hours.

If you are experiencing issues uploading required documents into your online application, there is a 10 MG limitation. We suggest you save the attachment as a PDF or downsize the file size by dividing the document into parts.

If you continue to experience issues, we suggest you contact the program administrator directly at (833) 832-4494 or FloridaBusinessLoanFund@DEO.MyFlorida.com.

What are the terms of the Emergency Bridge Loan Program?

Eligible business applicants can apply for an interest-free, 1-year loan for up to $50,000.

For purposes of the Emergency Bridge Loan Program, an amount greater than the program maximum ($50,000), up to $100,000 may be applied and awarded if there is a bonafide business reason that more is necessary to the recovery and restored operations of the business.

Is the bridge loan a grant?

Loans made under EBL program are short-term debt loans made by the state of Florida using public funds – they are not grants. EBLs require repayment by the approved applicant from longer-term financial resources such as insurance payments, U.S. SBA EIDL, etc.

How long will it take to make a loan decision and receive funding?

Due to the widespread effects of COVID-10, we are experiencing an extraordinarily high volume of inquiries and applications. Please be patient with us during this time. We are working to review and process your application as quickly as possible. A Florida SBDC Bridge Loan Specialist will be assigned to your application and be in touch with you directly regarding the status of your application within 7 – 10 days of receipt. (Maybe faster.)  Once we receive a completed application package, which includes all the required documents, it usually takes on average 7 days to process the application, make a loan decision and, if approved, schedule the loan closing.

Are sole proprietorships or self-employed individuals eligible?

For purposes of the EBL program, the type of business entity does not impact the business’s eligibility. To be an eligible business applicant, the business must meet the minimum eligibility requirements, including but not limited to having an aggregate minimum of two (2) employees that are W-2 employees, “1099 employees” (i.e. independent contracts), or leased employees within the previous year of the date of the declared disaster (March 9, 2020).

Are non-profits eligible?

For purposes of the EBL program, eligible applicant business must be a for-profit, privately held small business in Florida. Non-profits are not eligible applicants for this program. However, unlike the state program, the federal U.S. SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loan program is available to most non-profit businesses.

Are massage therapy facilities and schools of massage therapy eligible business applicants?

Yes, licensed massage therapy facilities, as well as schools of massage therapy, are eligible business applicants for the Florida Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan program. Of course, they must also meet the other eligibility requirements.

Can I receive more than one EBL if I have multiple businesses or multiple business locations?

For purposes of the EBL program, a “business” is defined as an entity that files a federal business tax return. If you have multiple businesses, and each business files its own federal business tax return, you can receive one Florida Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan for each business. If you have a business with multiple business locations, you can not receive more than one Florida Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan for each location.

Am I eligible to apply if I lease my employees from a PEO?

For purposes of the EBL program, leased employees are allowed when determining eligibility in meeting the employer criteria. The eligible applicant must secure a standard of documentation from their Professional Employer Organization (PEO) that details the number of employees, employment taxes paid, and timing those employees were leased and employment taxes paid as the employer tax documents required to support the application.

Can I apply if my business doesn’t have qualified employees (i.e. W-2, 1099, or leased employees)? If not, what are my options?

Regrettably, the state program, i.e. Florida Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan is not available to non-employer small businesses. Please note, however, the minimum of two employees means the aggregate number of W-2 employees, “1099 employees” (i.e. independent contractors), and leased employees.

If your business does not have qualified employees, your business may be eligible for a federal disaster loan, i.e. U.S. Small Business Administration “Economic Injury Disaster Loan” (EIDL). Unlike the state program, this disaster loan program is available to businesses of all sizes.

Do you need to have two full-time employees to meet the employer eligibility requirement?

For purposes of the EBL program, “employees” are defined as individuals who receive paid wages or salary, which employment taxes (e.g. FICA, FUTA) and income taxes (not self-employment tax or corporate income tax) are withdrawn and remitted to the IRS, evidenced by business tax returns filed, i.e. IRS Form 941 – Employer’s Quarterly Federal Tax Return; IRS Form W-3,Transmittal of Wage and Tax Statements; IRS Form W-2 – Wage and Tax Statement, or IRS Form 1099-MISC reporting wages paid to an independent contractor. If the aggregate of the individual employees reported on these forms is two or greater, but less than one-hundred, you have met the employer eligibility requirement.

Does a bad credit score or bankruptcy automatically disqualify my business from being eligible?

For the purposes of the EBL program, there is no minimum credit score that automatically disqualifies a business as a recipient of a Florida Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan. Having a bankruptcy also doesn’t automatically disqualify your business as being a recipient. However, less than a fair credit score or credit history can make it more difficult to be approved.

Each loan application package is reviewed by an independent Emergency Bridge Loan Review Committee. The Committee reviews and determines if an applicant business has the ability and “creditworthiness” to repay the new debt service. Committee members are instructed to analyze and apply credit standards as determined by industry standards for small and microbusiness loans, including but not limited to assessing the personal credit score and credit history of the business owner(s). Conversely, a low credit score, or bankruptcy, in itself should not preempt loan approval as long as the credit history meets minimum standards. 

With that said, without extending circumstances, a credit score below 620 will make it difficult to get a loan. Conversely, a high credit score doesn’t guarantee a loan either. 

We suggest that if an applicant(s) has/have a low credit score due to extraordinary circumstances (e.g. medical bills due to a significant illness) to provide proof and a written letter of justification for the Loan Review Committee. Remember, the primary factor is the ability of the applicant business to repay the EBL in the agreed term of the loan program.

Other factors considered include:

    1. probability of business receiving federal disaster assistance, and/or
    2. probability of business to receive proceeds from insurance recovery (if any), and/or
    3. probability of business to qualifying for other long-term credit (e.g. bank financing), and/or 
    4. probability of the business to recover and generate sufficient cash flow from business operations to repay the debt service within the agreed-upon loan term.
Can I apply if I don’t have my 2019 taxes completed or filed for an extension?

The application requires the submission of the previous two (2) years of federal business tax returns. If you have not filed your 2019 taxes, or you have requested an extension, you simply need to explain that in your application and include your most recent year(s) of tax returns available.

What are the consequences if I default on my loan?
    1. 12% per annum until the loan is repaid in full
    2. Reported default and referred to a collection agency
    3. A collection agency will charge collection agency fees as a percentage of outstanding balance due and may report loan default to credit reporting agencies.
    4. The borrower is responsible for the full amount of the loan balance principal, accrued interest and collection agency fee.

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