Florida small business owners who have been impacted by Tropical Storm Debby can now apply for an expedited interest-free, short-term loan through the Florida Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan Program. The program is administered by Florida First Capital on behalf of the state.
Under the program, small business owners (from 2 to 100 employees) are eligible for up to $25,000 in interest-free financial help with 90 or 180 day terms based on individual business circumstances.
The emergency short-term loans help bridge the critical gap between when a small business makes application for and secures other permanent financial recovery resources, including sufficient profits from a revived business, receipt of payments on insurance claims or federal disaster assistance.
Governor Rick Scott has allocated $10 million from General Revenue to fund the emergency bridge loan program. The appropriation is made through a budget amendment pursuant to the Governor’s emergency declaration.
The following Florida counties are currently approved for the emergency bridge loan program: Alachua, Baker, Bay, Bradford, Charlotte, Citrus, Clay, Collier, Columbia, Dixie, Duval, Escambia, Franklin, Gilchrist, Gulf, Hamilton, Hernando, Highlands, Hillsborough, Jefferson, Lafayette, Lee, Leon, Levy, Liberty, Madison, Manatee, Marion, Nassau, Pasco, Pinellas, Polk, Santa Rosa, Sarasota, Suwannee, Taylor, Union and Wakulla.
To be eligible, small businesses must have been established in Florida prior to June 25, 2012, and demonstrate physical damage as a result of Tropical Storm Debby. The need for the loan and use of proceeds must be directly related to the physical damages caused by Tropical Storm Debby.
Applications will be accepted under this program through August 15, 2012, contingent on the availability of funds. Applications may be downloaded at www.floridadisasterloan.org.
Once completed, applicants should contact the Florida Small Business Development Center (SBDC) Network at (850) 473-7800 or toll-free at (866) 737-7232 for submission instructions. Website: www.floridasbdc.org. Applicants may also contact the SBDC Network for free help with completing the application.
The Florida Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan Program was first activated in the aftermath of Hurricane Andrew. Since then, the program has helped minimize the economic impacts of the Winter Storm of 1993, the Northwest Florida Floods of 1994, Hurricanes Opal, Georges, Charley, Frances, Ivan, Jeanne, Dennis and Wilma, the Central Florida Tornados of 2007, the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010 and now Tropical Storm Debby.
Florida First Capital has administered the program on behalf of the state for every disaster except Andrew, Georges and Wilma. In doing so, Florida First Capital has assisted more than 950 small businesses in 56 counties to promptly receive more than $27 million in state disaster bridge loans.
For more information about the Florida Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan Program, visit www.floridadisasterloan.org.