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 Orlando, Barnett Murphy Direct Marketing (BMDM) is a direct marketing agency that helps companies reach the right individuals, specializing in personalized direct mail as well as online and offline contacts like display and Facebook advertisements. The company implements data-driven digital marketing campaigns, including data analysis/segmentation, customized print, and return-on-investment reporting.
In September 2017, the company suffered economic injury from Hurricane Irma. Seeking assistance, CEO Chuck Barnett 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, he recalled:
What type of damage occurred?
Our largest clients are automotive dealerships through the Southeast. Before the storm, none wanted to do marketing. During the storm, they were closed. Then after the hurricane, people were buying vehicles to replace what was lost so my customers didn’t need to do any direct mail then either. The combination essentially shut down our business, it put a hit on our cash flow and we were without revenues for more than a month.
How was the Emergency Bridge Loan helpful?
The loan is going help us payback some credit cards we ran up to cover expenses. And replace personal funds used to pay the mortgage, cover the payroll, pay off the loans we have. It will partially repair the damage from the short term loss of revenue.
How was the Florida SBDC at UCF helpful during this process?
The FSBDC and our consultant was exceptional. They informed us of the program, helped us with the paperwork, and kept us informed all through the process. It was two weeks 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.