Florida SBDC Network Stands Ready to Help Businesses Apply, Navigate Recovery Challenges
Florida SBDC Network Headquarters (Pensacola, Fla.) – The Florida Small Business Development Center (SBDC) Network, the state’s principal provider of small business assistance, encourages small businesses impacted by Hurricane Michael to apply for state and federal disaster assistance. As part of its service offering, the network can assist small businesses in applying for disaster loans and with other post-disaster challenges at no cost.
Following Hurricane Michael, Governor Scott activated the Florida Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan Program to provide an expedient source of capital to businesses physically and economically injured from 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 Florida Small Business Emergency 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.
Eligibility changes to the program now permit qualified small business owners with fewer than two employees, including self-employed businesses, to 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 a state disaster-declared county, and demonstrate economic injury or physical damage as a result of Hurricane Michael. The deadline to apply is December 7, 2018.
Federal assistance is also available to small businesses physically and/or economically injured from Hurricane Michael through the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). To be eligible for a Physical and/or Economic Injury Disaster Loan, small businesses and private nonprofits must be located in a Presidential disaster-declared county.
Small businesses, small agricultural cooperatives, small businesses engaged in aquaculture, and most private nonprofit organizations located in an SBA contiguous county are eligible to apply for SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loans only.
Interest rates are as low as 3.675 percent for businesses and 2.5 percent for nonprofit organizations. The SBA customizes loan amounts and terms up to a maximum of 30 years for each applicant.
Florida SBDC Network Stands Ready to Assist
Florida SBDC disaster recovery specialists are available to provide confidential, no-cost consulting to help affected businesses prepare disaster loan applications and with other post-disaster challenges. As a principal responder in the state’s Emergency Support Function (ESF) 18 for Business and Industry, the Florida SBDC Network, in partnership with SBA, is establishing Business Recovery Centers (BRCs) in adversely impacted communities. Florida SBDC disaster specialists are working alongside SBA business loan specialists at BRCs to provide information about resources available and assist businesses in completing state and federal disaster loan applications.
“We are saddened to see and hear the stories of damage and loss that individuals and small businesses have suffered due to Hurricane Michael,” said Michael W. Myhre, CEO of the Florida SBDC Network. “We want our small business owners to know how important they are to our state and that we stand ready to assist them get back on their feet as quickly as possible.”
For more information on state and federal disaster loans, eligibility, and to find a Business Recovery Center, 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.