Bridge Loan Helps Tampa-based Car Dealer Continue Operations

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

Freedom Motorcars owner Chris Belsha closes on a Florida Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan with help from the Florida SBDC at USF - Hillsborough County

Freedom Motorcars owner Chris Belsha closes on a Florida Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan with help from the Florida SBDC at USF – Hillsborough County

As Hurricane Irma approached Florida, she took a toll on the bottom line of most businesses in the region. Tampa-based Freedom Motorcars was no different, feeling the impact by losing a month’s worth of revenue as traffic to both the brick and mortar location and the website slowed to a stop.

Seeking assistance, owner Chris Belsha reached out to the Florida SBDC at Hillsborough County for assistance securing a Florida Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan. When asked about his experience with the storm and the assistance received, he recalled:

What type of damage occurred?

Obviously with the turmoil that began with everything that happened we lost literally a month’s worth of business and recuperating from that is a huge thing.

How was the Emergency Bridge Loan helpful?

We want to be able to make payroll. We want to be able to pay our vendors. We don’t want to fall behind. It’s a huge help and as business returns back to normal, it’ll be a very easy repayment due to the terms – they’re amazing.

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

Amazing. Quick response. Fast. Answered every one of my questions without fail at all hours, it seemed like. It was a very, very easy transaction. I wish I knew about things like this before. I’ve been in business 10 years and I wish I would’ve known about this before.

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 Freedom Motorcars sustained economic injury from Hurricane Irma, owner Chris Belsha reached out to the Florida SBDC at Hillsborough County for help securing an emergency bridge loan.

"[The Florida SBDC at Hillsborough County] was amazing. Quick response. Fast. Answered every one of my questions without fail at all hours, it seemed like. It was a very, very easy transaction. I wish I knew about things like this before. I've been in business 10 years and I wish I would've known about this before.  "

- Chris Belsha, owner - Freedom Motorcars

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