Florida SBDC Network Urges Preparation for Hurricane Season

State’s Principal Provider of Business Assistance Advises Preparedness as Season Approaches

Florida SBDC Network Headquarters (Pensacola, Fla.) – The Florida SBDC Network, the state’s principal provider of business assistance, urges small business owners across the state to prepare for the 2019 Atlantic basin hurricane season, which begins June 1 and extends through November 30.

According to a forecast by Colorado State University (CSU), the 2019 Atlantic hurricane season is predicted to be slightly below-average, with 13 named storms, five hurricanes, and two major hurricanes. CSU will release its next seasonal update on June 4.

In 2018, four named storms impacted the U.S. coast, including Hurricane Michael, a Category 5 storm which caused $18.4 billion in estimated losses in Florida and severe devastation for thousands of small businesses.

“Florida has experienced three particularly devastating hurricane seasons,” said Michael W. Myhre, CEO of the Florida SBDC Network. “All businesses should take time now to understand the risks associated with hurricanes and to develop a preparedness plan no matter the forecast.”

Small business owner Joshua Street gets help from consultant Johnny Branch in the Florida SBDC Network emergency response Mobile Assistance Center (MAC) after Hurricane Michael destroyed his office in Panama City, Florida. (Michael Spooneybarger/ UWF Division of Research and Strategic Innovation)

Established in 1976, the Florida SBDC Network has more than 40 offices from Pensacola to Key West. 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, recovery, and mitigation through its Business Continuation services.

Through the network’s service offering, professionally certified business consultants can help small business owners develop comprehensive business continuity, emergency preparedness, and disaster recovery plans at no cost. As part of its service offering, the Florida SBDC also offers Bizaster, a free mobile disaster assistance app. Bizaster, available in both English and Spanish for Android and iOS, features risk assessments, customizable checklists, and other resources.  

In the event of a disaster, Florida SBDC disaster specialists help affected businesses prepare disaster loan applications. The network will also deploy its mobile assistance centers into communities for affected businesses to receive on-site assistance with disaster loans and other post-disaster challenges.

Florida SBDCs also offer online and in-person educational training on disaster preparedness, tips, and resources.

Following Hurricane Michael, the Florida SBDC Network partnered with the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity and Florida First Capital Finance Corporation to administer the Florida Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan program.

The Florida SBDC Network closed 492 Florida Small Business Emergency Bridge Loans totaling $21.6 million.

For business owners like Ben Kaempfer, general manager of Cottondale-based Register’s Meat Company, the short-term, interest-free loan served as an important lifeline to recover following severe physical and economic injury from the storm.

“We lost $35,000 worth of inventory because we weren’t able to refrigerate it,” said Kaempfer. “Our employees lost everything. We also lost 10 grocery stores permanently that carried our product...The bridge loan was such a timely process – we were actually surprised at how quickly we applied, got the funds, and also about the terms of the loan. It’s hard to describe how helpful the program was and how much of a relief it was to secure it because my family, my dad’s family, and our employees and their families depend on our business.”

To learn more about the Florida SBDC’s efforts to help small businesses following Hurricane Michael and other recent disasters, please click here.

Preparedness Resources: Where to Go

  • For more information regarding the Florida SBDC’s Business Continuation services and Bizaster app, please click here.
  • For a list of preparedness resources, including tips for assembling a  Business Ready “Records-To-Go” Box,  please click here.
  • www.FloridaDisaster.org – The state’s official source of general and specific information for individuals and businesses from the Florida Division of Emergency Management.
  • The Hurricane Supplies Sales Tax Holiday is May 31 - June 6. To learn more about the holiday and qualifying items, please click here.
  • For a hurricane preparedness checklist and other resources from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), please click here.