Florida SBDC Network Headquarters (Pensacola, Fla.) – State and federal disaster assistance is available to small businesses impacted by Hurricane Sally. The Florida SBDC Network stands ready to assist businesses with disaster loan applications and with other post-disaster challenges.
“We are saddened to see and hear the stories of damage and loss that individuals and small businesses have suffered due to Hurricane Sally,” said Dr. Cheryl Kirby, interim CEO of the Florida SBDC Network. “We want 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.”
Governor DeSantis activated the Florida Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan Program on September 23 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 businesses bridge the gap until long-term recovery resources, such as insurance claims or federal assistance, are available.
Under the program, eligible may apply for loans up to $50,000 for one year or, in special cases, $100,000 if warranted by the needs of the business for up to one year.
To be eligible, a business must be located in Escambia, Santa Rosa, or Okaloosa county, must have been established prior to September 14, 2020, employ two to 100 employees, have repaid all outstanding emergency bridge loans, and demonstrate economic injury or physical damage as a result of Hurricane Sally. The deadline to apply is November 14, 2020, or when funds have been expended.
Federal assistance is also available to small businesses physically and/or economically injured from Hurricane Sally through the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). Small businesses and most private nonprofits in Bay, Escambia, Okaloosa, Santa Rosa, and Walton counties are eligible for both Physical and Economic Injury Disaster Loans. Small businesses and nonprofits in adjacent Calhoun, Gulf, Holmes, Jackson, and Washington counties may apply for Economic Injury Disaster Loans only.
Business Physical Disaster Loans are intended to help repair or replace disaster-damaged property. Small businesses and most nonprofit organizations may apply for up to $2 million to repair or replace disaster-damaged or destroyed real estate, machinery and equipment, inventory, and other business assets.
For small businesses, small agricultural cooperatives, small businesses engaged in aquaculture and most private, nonprofit organizations, the SBA also offers Economic Injury Disaster Loans to help meet working capital needs caused by the storm.
Interest rates are as low as three percent for businesses and 2.75 percent for nonprofit organizations. The SBA customizes loan amounts and terms up to a maximum of 30 years for each applicant.
Applying for Economic Injury Disaster Loans
• To apply, businesses must first register with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) at www.DisasterAssistance.gov or download the FEMA mobile app. If online or mobile access is unavailable, applicants should call the FEMA toll-free helpline at 800-621-3362.
• Upon registration with FEMA, businesses may apply for a disaster loan by applying online at http://disasterloanassistance.sba.gov.
The filing deadline to return applications for physical property damage is December 1, 2020. The deadline to return economic injury applications is July 2, 2021.
Florida SBDC Network Stands Ready to Assist
As part of its service offering, Florida SBDC disaster specialists are available to provide confidential, no-cost consulting to help affected businesses prepare disaster loan applications and with other post-disaster challenges.
The Florida SBDC at UWF has established temporary Business Recovery Centers (BRCs). The BRCs are open Monday through Friday from 9:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m., with the exception of the Santa Rosa County Economic Development Office, which will be closed Fridays. Businesses seeking assistance may visit one of the BRCs or contact the Florida SBDC at UWF for virtual assistance.
The Florida SBDC at UWF is also hosting virtual weekly Emergency Bridge Loan program Q&A sessions every Thursday at noon CST.
For more information, please visit www.FloridaSBDC.org/hurricane-sally. For questions about the Emergency Bridge Loan program, SBA disaster loans, and how the Florida SBDC can help, please contact the Florida SBDC at UWF at (850) 474-2528.