Bridge Loan Helps Three Volcanoes Farm Retain Employees Following Hurricane 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.

Three Volcanoes Farm, a Florida SBDC at UCF emergency bridge loan success story

Wally and Karen Owens of Three Volcanoes Farm with Pauline Davis, assistant director of the Florida SBDC at UCF

Located in Tavares, Three Volcanoes Farm is a wholesale plant nursery that supplies large quantities of landscape materials for commercial landscapers. They are currently growing 80 varieties of woody ornamentals, tropicals, liriopes, ornamental grasses, daylilies and groundcovers on 112 acres of nursery in Florida and 60 acres in Costa Rica. In September 2017, the company suffered physical and economic injury from Hurricane Irma. Seeking assistance, owners Wally and Karen Owens 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, they recalled:

What type of damage occurred?

Plant and structural damage, especially to the glass greenhouses. More significant however, was the business interruption. Still not fully operational today, a full month since the hurricane. It’s starting to come back, but have lost at least a $250,000 of sales. Our customers are working on clean up, not planting. And customers are across the Southeast, with one of the biggest hit by Hurricane Harvey in Houston.

How was the Emergency Bridge Loan helpful?

This is going to mean that we won’t have to lay off any of our more than 50 employees. Cash flow has been hit hard and the same for working capital. This gets us past that and back into doing business.

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

Working with the FSBDC was great. They were amazing. The process was extremely fast; not more than a week and a half. And really simple. For a government outfit, it was amazing.

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.

Three Volcanoes Farm, a Florida SBDC at UCF emergency bridge loan success story

"Working with the Florida SBDC at UCF [through the bridge loan process] was great. They were amazing. The process was extremely fast; not more than a week and a half. And really simple. "

- Karen Owens, Co-owner - Three Volcanoes Farm

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