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.
For a company that specializes in water and mold challenges for commercial and residential properties, Hurricane Irma means a big boost in business. When your clients are primarily insurance companies, it can also create a stall in cash flow when the companies get buried in processing claims and the work load increases.
That was the case for VetCor LLC after Hurricane Irma passed through Florida. The company specializes in solving water and mold damage challenges with a staff consisting of former United States military members.
While he recognizes that the storm means a big boost in business down the road, owner Paul Huszar is also aware of the cash flow problem it created in the present, as the demand for cash in the business exploded due to an influx of work.
Huszar set out to find a solution that would bridge the gap between completion of work and payment on projects. That’s when he heard about the State of Florida’s Emergency Bridge Loan program. Already a Florida SBDC at University of South Florida client who’d taken advantage of the no-cost consulting and low-cost training seminars when building his business, Huszar reached out to the organization, and business consultant Mitch Lairmore, for assistance in applying for the Bridge loan.
When asked about his experience with the storm and the assistance received, he recalled:
What type of damage occurred?
It’s ironic because it was both a boom for us significantly but also a cash flow crunch because, as I mentioned, probably 99 percent of our business is through insurance carriers. So we were just in the peak of a very good season so we had a lot of accounts receivable – for the most part all current – and then this huge event happened, so it’s another huge boom but all of a sudden everything just stalled because of the insurance companies.
How will the Bridge Loan help?
Our accounts receivable, which supports our cash flow, stalled and our requirement for cash went through the roof because we were experiencing 10 times the volume.
How was the Florida SBDC at USF helpful during this process?
I came down and met with Mitch and the staff here. He was able to help communicate what the requirements and criteria were and was able to facilitate all of that. I’ve been through the financing classes here before and it’s really helped us to get to where we are today. As usual, the SBDC has been excellent.
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 could apply for loans up to $50,000 for 90 or 180-day terms. The application deadline was November 30, 2017.
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.