Bridge Loan Helps Tampa-based Bankruptcy Firm Retain Clients Following Irma

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

Located in Tampa, Debt Relief Legal Group is a bankruptcy firm with an average of 50 clients.

With Hurricane Irma barreling towards Florida, clients of Debt Relief Legal Group cancelled appointments as they evacuated the area. Once Irma hit, the office was left without power, forcing the business to close for an entire week.

Seeking assistance, owner Alan Borden reached out to the Florida SBDC at University of South Florida for assistance securing a Florida Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan. When asked about his experience with the storm and the assistance received, he recalled:

With Hurricane Irma barreling towards Florida, clients of Debt Relief Legal Group cancelled appointments as they evacuated the area. Once Irma hit, the office was left without power, forcing the business to close for an entire week. Seeking assistance, owner Alan Borden reached out to the Florida SBDC at University of South Florida for assistance securing a Florida Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan.

Alan Borden, owner of Debt Relief Legal Group, accepts an emergency bridge loan check from Eileen Rodriguez, Regional Director of the Florida SBDC at USF

What type of damage occurred?

My office is a high volume, slim margin service-oriented business. Prior to and a week after the hurricane, clients canceled because they had to evacuate or didn’t have time to come in. My staff also had to evacuate and once Irma hit, my office was out of power until late Friday, September 15, which forced us to be closed for an entire week. My office retains 50 clients a month on average or 12 clients a week, which we gross $1600 a client. Closing down for a week stopped us from retaining any clients, slowed down the progress of our retained clients, [and] thus stopped the inflow of money on dozens of clients.

How will the Emergency Bridge Loan help?

A loan like this will help us fill in those gaps until eventually those people who still have the same problems would be able to come back when their better on their feet and pay us.

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

Great. The instructions are very simple as to how to apply. I came into the office and showed everything I had. It was very easy. I think I was missing one document and [they] were on it right away. I think within 10 days we were ready to go.

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.

With Hurricane Irma barreling towards Florida, clients of Debt Relief Legal Group cancelled appointments as they evacuated the area. Once Irma hit, the office was left without power, forcing the business to close for an entire week. Seeking assistance, owner Alan Borden reached out to the Florida SBDC at University of South Florida for assistance securing a Florida Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan.

"[The Florida SBDC at USF] was great. The instructions are very simple as to how to apply. I came into the office and showed everything I had. It was very easy. I think I was missing one document and [they] were on it right away. I think within 10 days we were ready to go. "

- Alan Borden, Owner - Debt Relief Legal Group

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