State’s Principal Provider of Business Assistance Advises Preparedness as Storm, Season Approaches
Florida SBDC Network Headquarters (Pensacola, Fla.) – The Florida SBDC Network, the state’s principal provider of business assistance, urges small business owners across the state to prepare for Alberto, a subtropical storm forecasted to bring heavy rain across the state over the holiday weekend, and the 2018 Atlantic hurricane season, which begins next Friday, June 1 and extends through November.
According to a forecast by Colorado State University (CSU), the 2018 Atlantic hurricane season is predicted to be slightly above-average, with 14 named storms, seven hurricanes, and three major hurricanes. CSU will release its updated outlook on May 31.
“As Alberto and the hurricane season approach, all businesses should take time now to understand the risks associated with hurricanes and to develop a preparedness plan,” said Michael Myhre, CEO of the Florida SBDC Network. “Last September, small businesses suffered significant physical and economic injury from Hurricane Irma. No storm should be taken lightly and all small businesses owners should prepare each year no matter the forecast.”
Ensuring Florida Remains Open for Business
Established in 1976, the Florida SBDC Network has more than 40 offices from Pensacola to Key West. 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.
Through the network’s service offering, professionally certified business consultants can help small business owners develop comprehensive business continuity, emergency preparedness, and disaster recovery plans at no cost. Florida SBDCs also offer online and in-person educational training on disaster preparedness, tips, and resources.
As part of its service offering, the Florida SBDC also offers Bizaster, a free mobile disaster assistance app. Bizaster, available in both English and Spanish for Android and iOS, features risk assessments, customizable checklists, and other resources. The Florida SBDC at FIU – a member of the Florida SBDC Network – developed the app in partnership with FIU’s Extreme Events Institute and the U.S. Agency for International Development Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance.
In the event of a disaster, Florida SBDC business consultants, many of whom are Disaster Recovery Institute (DRI) Certified Business Continuity Professionals, help affected businesses prepare disaster loan applications and with other post-disaster challenges.
Following Hurricane Irma, the Florida SBDC Network partnered with DEO and Florida First Capital Finance Corporation to administer the Florida Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan and Citrus Emergency Loan programs.
The Florida SBDC Network closed 828 Florida Small Business Emergency Bridge Loans totaling $27.7 million and 58 Citrus Emergency Loans totaling $7.08 million. Florida SBDC professionally certified consultants and disaster specialists provided nearly 9,000 hours of direct, one-on-one consulting to help affected business owners prepare disaster loan applications and with other post-disaster challenges.
Business owners like Anne Lang, president of Sebring-based Busy Kids Creative Learning Center, an early childhood educational program in Highlands County. “The Bridge Loan was incredibly helpful,” Lang said. “Not only did we sustain physical damage, but we had [a] loss of income due to temporary closure. It will help me make payroll – we have 19 employees – and front deposits until the insurance money is available. The SBDC…made me aware of the process, explained the application requirements and assisted me through every step of the loan process. I am very grateful for [their] guidance and follow through!” Busy Kids Creative Learning Center re-opened on November 6.
In the event of a disaster, the network will also deploy its mobile assistance centers into communities for affected businesses to receive on-site assistance.
Preparedness Resources: Where to Go
- For more information regarding the Florida SBDC’s Business Continuation services and Bizaster app, please click here.
- For a list of preparedness resources, please click here.
- www.FloridaDisaster.org – The state’s official source of general and specific information for individuals and businesses from the Florida Division of Emergency Management.
- The 2018 Disaster Preparedness Sales Tax Holiday begins Friday, June 1 and extends through Thursday, June 7. To learn more about the holiday and qualifying items, please click here.
- For a hurricane preparedness checklist and other resources from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), please click here.