Florida SBDC Network, Pensacola Chamber Partner to Deploy Mobile Assistance Center for Businesses Impacted by Flood

FSBDCN State Office: Following the Presidential disaster declaration in response to the severe storms and flooding that recently occurred in Northwest Florida, the Florida SBDC at the University of West Florida (FSBDC at UWF) today deployed its emergency response Mobile Assistance Center (MAC) into the heart of downtown Pensacola. Equipped with laptops, printers, satellite communications, supplies and more, the MAC provides easy access for small business owners impacted by the recent storms and flooding to receive consultation from FSBDC consultants.

"We are pleased to partner with the Greater Pensacola Chamber," said Kelly Massey, Regional Director for the FSBDC at UWF. "The Chamber is located in close proximity to many affected businesses so we are happy to provide a convenient place where they may receive help."

The FSBDC at UWF has partnered with the Greater Pensacola Chamber of Commerce to locate the MAC next to the Chamber at 117 W. Garden Street (in the parking lot off of Spring Street). FSBDC consultants will be available for consultation in the MAC and at the Chamber Monday - Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

"Our goal is to ensure that all businesses within our community that were affected by the recent storm and flooding events have access to resources and support in order to recover as quickly as possible," said Greater Pensacola Chamber President Jerry Maygarden. "Having the MAC located here will provide business owners who have questions relating to disaster loans, federal assistance and application preparations with a convenient location."

Disaster Loans for Small Businesses

Following the disaster declaration, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) has made available both Physical and Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL). According to a news release from the SBA, small businesses and most private non-profit organizations in Escambia, Santa Rosa and Okaloosa counties in Florida are eligible to apply. The purpose of an EIDL is to provide small business owners with low interest loans to help meet working capital needs caused by the disaster. EIDL assistance is available regardless of whether the business has suffered any physical property damage. Governor Rick Scott recently reactivated the Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan Program to provide loans for physical damage to a business only.

As a principal responder in the state's Emergency Support Function (ESF) 18 for Business & Industry, the Florida SBDC Network is a key economic development organization that supports disaster preparedness, response, recovery and mitigation through its Business Continuation services.

"Businesses may contact our office for assistance in the preparation of supporting documents that FEMA, the SBA and the State of Florida Bridge Loan will require," added Massey. "We want businesses to know that we're here and we can provide consultation at no cost. Many of our consultants are battle-tested with previous experience with disaster assistance."

The deadline to return applications for physical property damage is July 7, 2014. The deadline to return economic injury applications is February 6, 2015.

For more information regarding disaster assistance, please contact the Florida SBDC at UWF at (850) 474-2528 or the Florida SBDC at UWF - Fort Walton Beach at (850) 863-6552.

About the FSBDC Network

For over 35 years, the Florida SBDC Network has nourished a statewide partnership between higher education and economic development organizations, dedicated to providing emerging and established business owners with management and technical assistance, enabling overall growth and increased profitability for the businesses and economic prosperity for the state.

In 2012, the Florida SBDCs served approximately 38,000 entrepreneurs and small business owners through consulting and training, resulting in 47,845 jobs created, retained and saved at a significantly low cost of $112 per job; $6.3 billion in sales growth; $235.2 million in capital accessed; $588.4 million in government contract awards; and 744 new businesses started. For every $1 of Florida public and private sector investment in the FSBDC program, $40 was returned to the state in tax revenue.

A statewide service network of 40 centers with 60 outreach locations, the Florida SBDC Network is funded in part by the U.S. Small Business Administration, Defense Logistics Agency, State of Florida, and other private and public partners, with the University of West Florida serving as the Network's designated lead host institution. The Florida SBDC Network is state designated as Florida's principal provider of business assistance and is nationally accredited by the Association of SBDCs.