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 in Apopka, Di-Versified LLC provides exterior and interior installation of fiber-optic cables for communications companies such as AT&T and GOA. In September 2017, the company suffered physical and economic injury from Hurricane Irma. Seeking assistance, owner Betty Berkland 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, she recalled:
What type of damage occurred?
With the work shut downs at our projects the week before the hurricane, during the hurricane and the week after the hurricane, and even the week after that as our customers were assessing the damage, we had no revenues. And we had wind damage to the roof and side panels of our warehouse.
How was the Emergency Bridge Loan helpful?
We didn’t want our employees to be out of work. It makes it hard for them. We have a great team that works together well, that knows the business and are good at it so we kept them busy and we kept them on payroll. To make payroll, we had to withhold payment to our vendors. Now we can get current with them. The thing is, our customers did the same thing to us. Now everyone is getting caught up. So with this loan we can pay our employees; pay our vendors; and start working again.
How was the Florida SBDC at UCF helpful during this process?
Working with the FSBDC was great. They had everything outlined. They had simple explanations for everything. The paperwork we had to get together was minimal. It went really well and really fast from start-to-finish. The whole experience was as painless as possible and a real relief given our situation.
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.