Florida SBDC Network Encourages Small Businesses to Apply for Bridge Loan, Complete Disaster Assessment

Florida SBDC Network Headquarters (Pensacola, Fla.) – The Florida SBDC Network, the state’s principal provider of business assistance, encourages small businesses in Northwest Florida impacted by Hurricane Sally to apply for assistance through the Florida Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan program. The program, activated by Governor Ron DeSantis on Wednesday, provides a source of expedient capital to help small businesses physically 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, the bridge loan program is a short-term, interest-free working capital loan designed to help businesses “bridge the gap” between the time of impact and when long-term assistance, such as federal disaster loans, is available.

“Small businesses suffered devastating losses from the storm,” said Dr. Cheryl Kirby, Chief Operating Officer of the Florida SBDC Network. “These losses are further compounded by the hardships businesses are suffering due to COVID-19. We want business owners to know we are here to help them through the recovery process.”
“We want to do all we can to help the families, businesses, and communities affected by Hurricane Sally recover quickly and be resilient for the future,” said Dane Eagle, Executive Director of the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity. “Hurricane Sally has brought destructive coastal area flooding to Northwest Florida, and DEO will continue to work with these businesses and communities during the recovery process.”
“We are ready to assist the Governor and state of Florida to deliver this vital assistance to the small business community we serve, as we have 24 times since 1992,” said Florida First Capital Finance Corporation President and CEO, Todd Kocourek.
Eligible businesses with two to 100 employees in Escambia, Santa Rosa, and Okaloosa counties can apply for a bridge loan up to $50,000 or, in special cases, $100,000 if warranted by the needs of the business.

While the bridge loan is a source of expedient funds, it is not designed to be the primary source of assistance for impacted businesses. As part of the eligibility process, businesses must indicate pursuit of other sources, including insurance claims and federal disaster aid.

Federal assistance is available to eligible small businesses in Escambia, Santa Rosa, and Okaloosa counties through the SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan program.

Interest rates are as low as three percent and the SBA customizes loan amounts and terms up to a maximum of 30 years for each applicant. The maximum amount that can be borrowed is $2 million.

The Florida SBDC Network encourages small businesses impacted by the storm 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 state and 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.

Florida SBDC business consultants, many of whom are Disaster Recovery Institute (DRI) Certified Business Continuity Professionals, are available to assist small businesses as they prepare disaster loan applications and with other post-disaster challenges at no-cost.

The application period for the bridge loan program runs through November 14, or until the $5 million in funds are expended. For more information, and to apply, please visit www.FloridaJobs.org/EBL.

The application deadline for the SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loan program is June 21, 2021. For more information, and to apply, please visit https://DisasterLoanAssistance.sba.gov.

For more information regarding the Florida SBDC Network, please visit www.FloridaSBDC.org.

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