Disaster is a team effort. Read this story about partners working together to help Florida’s small businesses recover from Hurricane Irma.
Located in Sebring, Busy Kids Creative Learning Center, Inc., is an early childhood, educational program, which has 155 children enrolled. The Center contracts with the State of Florida for VPK and school readiness services, as well as provides private childcare and preschool services. Hurricane Irma caused widespread damage to businesses and residences in Highlands County, and Busy Kids Creative Learning Center was no exception. Once the storm cleared, the Highlands County Board of County Commissioner’s Economic Development office quickly set to work canvassing the community to let businesses know about the available recovery resources. One of the first businesses that Meghan DiGiacomo, Business Development Manager, came across was Busy Kids Learning Center. Below, Anne Lang, president of the learning center recalls her experience with working with Bill McKown, business consultant from the Florida SBDC at the University of South Florida:
What type of damage occurred?
Roof damage; ceiling damage; flooding throughout the building causing flooring, electrical, and equipment damage.
How was the Emergency Bridge Loan helpful?
The Bridge Loan is 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.
How was the Florida SBDC at USF helpful during this process?
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!
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.