Emergency Bridge Loan Program Helps Florida Small Businesses Rebound Financially After Disaster Strikes
In 1992 following Hurricane Andrew, the state of Florida created the Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan Program to help “bridge the financial gap” businesses face during the critical period between when a disaster hits and when an impacted business has secured long-term recovery resources. Since that time, Florida First Capital has proudly served on a pro bono basis as the state appointed fiscal administrator of the program.
“We know it’s imperative that disaster-impacted small businesses have quick access to working capital to restart their operations – without it, some may never open their doors again,” said Todd Kocourek, President & CEO of Florida First Capital Finance Corporation. “We are proud to donate our services to administer the distribution of emergency bridge loans in Florida over these many years.”
While the program has been an invaluable resource for small businesses in the Sunshine State for more than two decades following hurricanes, floods, storms and the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, its impact in immediately providing financial recovery funds has never been stronger than it was following Hurricane Irma.
Under the recently expired Hurricane Irma program, small business owners throughout Florida that experienced physical and/or economic damage during the storm could apply for up to $50,000 in emergency bridge loan help (increased from $25,000 in previous years). The hard hit citrus industry was also added as a subset to the program, which allowed impacted growers to apply for up to $150,000 in assistance.
To understand the program’s recent impact, prior to Hurricane Irma it had been activated 20 times and helped more than 2,730 small businesses statewide to receive more than $63 million in immediate financial help needed to get back on their feet.
Post Hurricane Irma, the program has now helped more than 3,550 small businesses statewide to receive more than $97.9 million in assistance. Specifically, the Hurricane Irma emergency bridge loan program alone assisted 887 small and citrus businesses to receive more than $34.7 million in assistance.
As a Certified Development Company, Florida First Capital’s main directive is economic development and job creation, which it works tirelessly to achieve primarily through the Small Business Administration (SBA) 504 Loan Program. But in a state like Florida that’s prone to hurricanes and other disasters, economic recovery and job loss prevention for small businesses impacted by a tragedy are critical to the survival of local communities and the state’s economy.
Additionally, for its efforts, Florida First Capital was honored in 2017 with a national award for its long standing work with the emergency bridge loan program. The company was presented with a Diamond Award for Non-504 CDC Projects by the National Association of Development Companies (NADCO), the trade association of Small Business Administration (SBA) Certified Development Companies (CDCs). The award is given to a CDC for the most impactful loan or project in a local community.
For more information about the Florida Emergency Bridge Loan Program, visit www.floridadisasterloan.org.