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.
Located on the St. Johns River in Deland, Holly Bluff Marina is a full-service marina offering houseboat and pontoon boat rentals, as well as boat storage and service. In September 2017, the company suffered extensive physical and economic injury from Hurricane Irma. Seeking assistance, owners Judy and Richard Armstrong 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, Judy recalled:
What type of damage occurred?
[We] experienced extensive physical and financial damage. Tree down across the nine-acre property, including on top of the waste treatment plant. [Our] docks are still flooded and under 12-18 inches of water with uncertainty as to when they will become accessible again. Physical damage and flooding has meant the marina has been closed since the hurricane, now more than 5 weeks, with no rental revenue whatsoever and only minor income form servicing boats.
How was the Emergency Bridge Loan helpful?
The Bridge Loan is allowing us to continue to pay our employees and not lay anyone off. It will also help our cash flow that was so harmed by our loss of business and revenues, as we had to rely on credit cards to cover more than $100,000 in bills since we were closed by the storm. The loan will help us repair our docks, utility boxes and the waste treatment facility, as well as remove the trees and debris on the property.
How was the Florida SBDC at UCF helpful during this process?
The FSBDC was wonderful. And so helpful. They acted really quickly; we had our loan within a week. And that was such a relief. Now we have some light at the end of the tunnel.
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.