Disaster is a team effort. Read this story about partners working together to help Florida’s small businesses recover from Hurricane Irma.
Located in New Port Richey, Dr. Cristen Mendoza wasn’t sure how she was going to keep the doors open at A Family Dentist, P.A., after Hurricane Irma hit. A general dentist practice, the loss of income and revenue from a week without electricity created a deficit Mendoza could not overcome on her own.
Seeking assistance, she sought out the Florida SBDC at the University of South Florida (USF) in applying for the Florida Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan, an interest-free loan program repayable within six months. Below, Mendoza recalls her experience:
What type of damage occurred?
My business incurred damages financially from the hurricane. We lost five days of production which equals about $9,000 in income and revenues. Without that money we were left short when we came back for paying our bills and all of our normal operating expenses. So without this loan my business wouldn’t even be able to operate right now without the extra working capital needed.
How was the Emergency Bridge Loan helpful?
This Bridge Loan is going to cover the gap that was created by Hurricane Irma. Again, it was $9,000 in income and revenue that we lost and because of the 180 days of no interest, we are going to be able to recoup those funds and not pay any kind of penalty.
How was the Florida SBDC at USF helpful during this process?
Basically, this has saved my business and I really appreciate the Florida SBDC because I never thought that I would qualify for any kind of help. I’m not in the best financial situation because I’ve had some medical issues and it really is nice to know that people are still willing to help, especially in these hard, hard times.
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.