Founded by the State of Florida in 1983 and licensed since 1984 by the Small Business Administration (SBA) as Florida’s Original Statewide Certified Development Company, Florida First Capital is chartered for the primary purpose of advancing the economic development and general welfare of the citizens of Florida by promoting and assisting the growth and development of small business concerns within the state.
In 1988, Florida First Capital contracted with the Florida Department of Commerce to provide SBA trained and qualified staff for the operation of its SBA 504 Loan Program. In 1996, upon the dissolution of the Department of Commerce, Florida First Capital contracted with the state’s Office of Tourism, Trade and Economic Development and with the Capital Development Board of Enterprise Florida to provide its staffing and management services.
In 1997, at the request of the Florida First Capital Board of Directors, the Florida Legislature approved a proposal for Florida First Capital to leave the state budget and become financially self-sufficient, providing for an initial state contribution of capital followed by a transition to self-sufficiency and an end to state financial support.
Since leaving the state budget, Florida First Capital, a nonprofit corporation, has achieved its goal of self-sufficiency, greatly increased loan volume each year, and been recognized by the SBA for its increased capability and lending activity and its lending assistance to minority, rural and women-owned small businesses.
In late 2016, Florida First Capital expanded its operations beyond the state of Florida to include eligible small businesses located in Baldwin, Covington, Escambia and Mobile counties in South Alabama and Camden, Charlton, Seminole and Thomas counties in South Georgia. In July of 2018, the SBA approved the company’s multi-state expansion request to offer the SBA 504 Loan Program to all eligible small businesses throughout the state of Alabama.
Pro Bono Work
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 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.
In 1992 following Hurricane Andrew, the state created the Florida 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. Under the program, small business owners can apply for short-term, interest-free working capital loans up to $50,000 to help expedite the critical reestablishment of business before other aid and insurance claims are processed.
Since inception of the program, Florida First Capital has proudly served on a pro bono basis as the state appointed fiscal administrator of the program, providing loan closing and servicing functions free of charge.
“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.”
In recognition of 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 SBA Certified Development Companies. The award is given to a Certified Development Company for the most impactful loan or project in a local community.
Florida First Capital was also named a Florida Resource Partner of the Year Award recipient in 2018 by the Florida SBDC Network for its work in economic recovery efforts for the state’s small businesses that sustained injury from Hurricane Irma.
For more information about the Florida Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan Program, visit www.floridadisasterloan.org.