Florida SBDC Network Urges Small Businesses to be Hurricane Ready

As Hurricane Season Approaches, State’s Principal Provider of Business Assistance Advises Preparedness

Florida SBDC Network Headquarters (Pensacola, Fla.) – This year, National Hurricane Preparedness Week runs May 6-12, 2018. The Florida SBDC Network, the state’s principal provider of business assistance, urges small business owners across the state to prepare for the 2018 Atlantic hurricane season, which begins June 1 and extends through November 30.According to a forecast by Colorado State University, the 2018 Atlantic hurricane season is predicted to be above-average, with 14 named storms, seven hurricanes, and three major hurricanes.

“As hurricane season approaches, all businesses should take time now to understand the risks associated with hurricanes and to develop a preparedness plan,” said Michael Myhre, CEO of the Florida SBDC Network. “In September, small businesses suffered significant physical and economic injury from Hurricane Irma. No storm should be taken lightly and all small businesses owners should prepare each year no matter the forecast.”

Ensuring Florida Remains Open for Business

Anne Lang (left), President of Busy Kids Creative Learning Center, worked with the Florida SBDC at USF and the Highlands County Board of County Commissioner’s Economic Development office to secure an emergency bridge loan for the business following Hurricane Irma.
Anne Lang (center), President of Busy Kids Creative Learning Center

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 are available to help business owners develop comprehensive business continuity, emergency preparedness, and disaster recovery plans at no cost.

In the event of a disaster, Florida SBDC business consultants, many of whom are Disaster Recovery Institute (DRI) Certified Business Continuity Professionals, help affected businesses prepare disaster loan applications and with other post-disaster challenges.

Following Hurricane Irma, the Florida SBDC Network partnered with DEO and Florida First Capital Finance Corporation to administer the Florida Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan and Citrus Emergency Loan programs.

The Florida SBDC Network closed 828 Florida Small Business Emergency Bridge Loans totaling $27.7 million and 58 Citrus Emergency Loans totaling $7.08 million -  a combined $34.8 million in capital that our small businesses and citrus producers desperately needed. Florida SBDC professionally certified consultants and disaster specialists provided nearly 9,000 hours of direct, one-on-one consulting to help affected business owners prepare disaster loan applications and with other post-disaster challenges.

Business owners like Anne Lang, president of Sebring-based Busy Kids Creative Learning Center, an early childhood educational program in Highlands County. “The Bridge Loan was incredibly helpful. Not only did we sustain physical damage, but we had loss of income due to temporary closure. It will help me make payroll – we have 19 employees – and front deposits until the insurance money is available. The SBDC, especially [business consultant] Bill McKown, made me aware of the process, explained the application requirements and assisted me through every step of the loan process. I am very grateful for his guidance and follow through!” Busy Kids Creative Learning Center re-opened on November 6.

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. The Florida SBDC at FIU – a member of the Florida SBDC Network – developed the app in partnership with FIU’s Extreme Events Institute and the U.S. Agency for International Development Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance.

The network will also deploy its Mobile Assistance Centers (MAC)—38-foot RVs equipped with laptops, printers, satellite communication, and more—into communities for affected businesses to receive on-site assistance.

Preparedness Resources: Where to Go

  • To learn more about National Hurricane Preparedness Week and ways to participate, please visit www.weather.gov/wrn/hurricane-preparedness.
  • To learn about a sales tax holiday for hurricane supplies June 1-7, please click here.
  • For more information regarding the Florida SBDC’s Business Continuation services and Bizaster app, please click here.