Interest-Free Emergency “Bridge” Loans Still Available for Small Businesses Damaged by Red Tide and Algal Bloom
Small businesses in designated disaster areas that have been economically and/or physically damaged by red tide or the Lake Okeechobee algal bloom may apply for short-term, interest-free working capital loans under the Florida Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan Program.
The program, administered by the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) in partnership with Florida First Capital (which serves as fiscal administrator on a pro bono basis) and the Florida SBDC Network, is 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.
Small businesses impacted by the red tide in Charlotte, Collier, Hillsborough, Lee, Manatee, Pinellas, and Sarasota counties may apply for assistance through October 12, 2018. Small businesses impacted by the Lake Okeechobee algal bloom in Glades, Hendry, Lee, Martin, Okeechobee, Palm Beach, and St. Lucie counties may apply for assistance through November 5, 2018.
Eligible small businesses with two to 100 employees may apply for loans up to $50,000. To be eligible, applicants must be for-profit, privately held small businesses who maintain a place of business in the state. Qualified small businesses must have been established prior to July 9, 2018, for Lake Okeechobee algal bloom assistance and August 13, 2018, for red tide assistance and must have suffered physical and/or economic injury from these events.
As part of the loan process, small businesses must submit their application and required documents to their local Florida SBDC. Florida SBDC professionally certified consultants and disaster specialists are available to provide confidential, no-cost consulting to help affected businesses complete their application and with other post-disaster challenges.
The Florida Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan Program was first activated following Hurricane Andrew. It has been activated 22 additional times following disasters and has helped more than 3,550 small businesses statewide receive more than $97.9 million in assistance, including $34.8 million following Hurricane Irma.
Applications may be downloaded at www.floridadisasterloan.org. Complete eligibility and loan development details as well as additional resources may also be found on the website.
For questions about the loan program and how the Florida SBDC can help, please contact the Florida SBDC nearest you. The Florida SBDC Network has also established a business disaster hotline for questions at (850) 898-3479 or Disaster@FloridaSBDC.org.