Bridge Loan Helps Winter Park Law Firm Resume Operations Following Irma

Disaster is a team effort. Read this story about the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, Florida First Capital Finance Corporation, and the Florida SBDC Network’s partnership to help Florida’s small businesses recover from Hurricane Irma.

Carmona Law, a Florida SBDC at UCF emergency bridge loan success story

Omar Carmona, founding partner of Carmona Law, with Pauline Davis, assistant director of the Florida SBDC at UCF

Located in Winter Park, Carmona Law is a full-service law firm with offices in Winter Park and Kissimmee, with affiliate offices in Tampa, Colombia, and Puerto Rico. With six attorneys, the firm specializes in family law, immigration, business law, bankruptcy and issues that have to do with Puerto Rico law.

In September 2017, the company suffered physical and economic injury from Hurricane Irma. Seeking assistance, founding partner Omar Carmona turned to the Florida SBDC at the University of Central Florida (UCF) for help securing a Florida Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan. When asked about the assistance received, he recalled:

What type of damage occurred?

Everything is done on line in our offices. With the power out, we lost all our security cameras and all internet connections, which prevented us accessing services in the cloud. Our server is in California and with no internet we could not log in. Our employees needed to work from home and were not able to be as productive. And we could not see clients. Our revenues and ability to earn them were adversely affected. And our building, its elevator and our offices all experienced water damage.

How was the Emergency Bridge Loan helpful?

The loan is going to mean that we have adequate working capital to finish the year with no problems. It gives us peace of mind that we will be fully operational and represent our clients effectively.

How was the Florida SBDC at UCF helpful during this process?

It was a huge relief knowing that there was a place like the FSBDC where we could go to for help after the hurricane. The flow between my office and the FSBDC was really smooth and decision making was really quick so we’re really happy with the whole, entire process.

About the Florida Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan Program

Administered by the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, in collaboration with the Florida SBDC Network, and supported by Florida First Capital Finance Corporation (FFCFC), the Florida Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan is a short-term, interest-free working capital loan intended to help small businesses “bridge the gap” between the time of a declared disaster and when the business has secured long-term recovery resources, such as insurance proceeds or federal disaster assistance. Governor Rick Scott activated the Florida Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan program on Thursday, September 14 and the first loan was distributed the following Monday. Eligible businesses with two to 100 employees may apply for loans up to $50,000 for 90 or 180-day terms.

As a principal responder in the state’s Emergency Support Function for Business, Industry, and Economic Stabilization, the Florida SBDC Network supports disaster preparedness, response, recovery, and mitigation through its Business Continuation Services. As part of its service offering, Florida SBDC professionally certified consultants and disaster specialists are available to provide confidential, no-cost consulting to help affected businesses prepare disaster loan applications and with other post-disaster challenges.

Carmona Law, a Florida SBDC at UCF emergency bridge loan success story

"It was a huge relief knowing that there was a place like the FSBDC where we could go to for help after the hurricane. The flow between my office and the FSBDC was really smooth and decision making was really quick so we’re really happy with the whole, entire process. "

- Omar Carmona, Founding Partner- Carmona Law

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