Bridge Loan Helps International Jewelry Supply Company Relocate, Reopen Following Irma

Disaster is a team effort. Read this story about partners working together to help Florida’s small businesses recover from Hurricane Irma.

Bridge Loan Success Photo 29624 Van Hook & Suarez - FIU

Brian Van Hook, associate director of the Florida SBDC at FIU (left), and Rafael Suarez (right)

Located in Miami, International Jewelers Supply provides tools, equipment, and supplies to the jewelry industry worldwide. In September 2017, the company suffered physical damage from Hurricane Irma. Seeking assistance, owner Rafael Suarez turned to the Florida SBDC at Florida International University (FIU) for help securing a Florida Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan. When asked about the assistance he received, Suarez recalled:

What type of damage occurred?

We had water damage [from the storm], which caused major mold issues.

How was the Emergency Bridge Loan helpful?

We were able to use the funds to relocate and operate while applying for other assistance.

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

The Florida SBDC at FIU was very useful in advising and guiding us during [the] serious problems [we faced].

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.

Bridge Loan Success Photo 29624 Van Hook & Suarez - FIU

"The Florida SBDC at FIU was very useful in advising and guiding us during [the] serious problems [we faced as a result of Hurricane Irma]."

- Rafael Suarez, Owner - International Jewelers Supply LLC

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