Bridge Loan Helps Lehigh Acres Veterinary Practice Recover Following Hurricane Irma

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

When Lehigh Acres-based Lighthouse Pet Clinic suffered economic and physical damage from Hurricane Irma, owner Laura Baltodano turned to the Florida SBDC at FGCU for help.

When Lehigh Acres-based Lighthouse Pet Clinic suffered economic and physical damage from Hurricane Irma, owner Laura Baltodano (center) turned to the Florida SBDC at FGCU for help. Pictured with Dr. Baltodano are Lois Knox (left) and Suzanne Specht (right), Regional Director and Assistant Area Director for the Florida SBDC at FGCU, respectively.

Located in Lehigh Acres, Lighthouse Pet Clinic is a small animal veterinary practice. Since 2006, Lighthouse Pet Clinic has provided quality pet health care to animals in Lehigh Acres and the surrounding area.

In September 2017, the clinic sustained damages from Hurricane Irma, including loss of power and business revenue. Owner and veterinarian Laura Baltodano turned to the Florida SBDC at Florida Gulf Coast University (FGCU) for help securing a Florida Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan. When asked about her experience with the hurricane and the assistance received, she recalled:

What type of damage occurred?

We suffered a loss of power, loss of business revenue, and damage to our air conditioning unit, including the unit itself and thermostat. We also suffered damage to radiology equipment.

How helpful was the Emergency Bridge Loan?

The bridge loan will allow us time to recover from a $10,000 + loss of revenue and potentially longer-term effects due to the hurricane, which has significant impacts on a small business.

How helpful was the SBDC?

The [Florida SBDC at FGCU] provided great communication and quick turnaround. [They were] very accommodating [and provided] good education options.

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.

When Lehigh Acres-based Lighthouse Pet Clinic suffered economic and physical damage from Hurricane Irma, owner Laura Baltodano turned to the Florida SBDC at FGCU for help.

"The [Florida SBDC at FGCU] provided great communication and quick turnaround. [They were] very accommodating [and provided] good education options.  "

- Dr. Laura Baltodano, Owner - Lighthouse Pet Clinic

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