As the health crisis has become a financial one, the state is making it easier for eligible small businesses to apply for Florida Small Business Emergency Bridge Loans.
Governor Ron DeSantis activated the Florida Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan program to funnel emergency capital to small business owners suffering from coronavirus-caused shutdowns and closures.
DeSantis noted that while health and safety remain tantamount, he understands “mitigation strategies will harm small businesses.” He added, “By activating the Florida Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan, we are providing the opportunity for Florida’s small businesses to receive cash immediately to ensure they can lessen the impacts felt as a result of COVID-19.”
Now, it’s even easier to apply for this much-needed cash. The loans are short-term (one-year), interest-free and up to $50,000. They’re designed to help business owners bridge the gap between the time the economic impact occurs and when the business secures other financial resources, including payment of insurance claims or longer-term Small Business Administration (SBA) loans.
To qualify, a small business must:
- Be located in Florida;
- Have 2 to 100 employees affected by COVID-19;
- Have been established prior to March 9, 2020;
- Demonstrate economic injury as a result of the virus;
- Have repaid, in full, any previous Florida Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan.
Qualifying businesses should apply for the program in one of two ways:
- Apply online and upload required supporting documentation or
- Download an application, complete it and mail it with the required supporting documentation to: Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, C/O Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan, 107 E. Madison Street, MSC-160, Tallahassee FL 32399-4120.
Applicants are advised to save a PDF of the application and all materials submitted.
Applications are due by May 8, 2020. The state has allocated up to $50 million for the program, which will be administered by the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) in partnership with the Florida SBDC (Small Business Development Center) Network and Florida First Capital Finance Corporation.
“Small businesses are critical to our economy,” said Michael W. Myhre, CEO of the Florida SBDC Network. “We want business owners to know that we’re here to help and are committed to doing all we can to help them recover.”
Florida SBDC business consultants, many of whom are Disaster Recovery Institute (DRI) Certified Business Continuity Professionals, can assist small businesses through the loan application process and with other COVID-19-related challenges at no cost.
Margie Smith, a consultant at FIU’s College of Business who serves the Florida Keys, sends applicants to the right place with an understanding of the eligibility criteria, reviews Florida Emergency Bridge Loan applications to make sure they are complete, and works with applicants to answer questions.
“We ensure they have the right documents in the right format to expedite the process so they can hopefully sail smoothly through the local loan committees that determine funding decisions based on DEO criteria,” said Smith. “We also assemble and facilitate these loan committees.”
Smith added, “Many businesses up and down the Keys have told me stories about how critical this bridge loan program was after Hurricane Irma to get them back up and running again as soon as possible. The purpose of the Florida Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan program is designed to help business owners bridge the gap between the time of impact and when the business has secured long-term assistance.”
Small businesses who have already applied for the bridge loan program in response to COVID-19 should not submit an additional application now.
To contact Smith, please email [email protected].
Business Damage Assessment Survey
DEO is currently surveying businesses throughout the state of Florida impacted by COVID-19. Businesses and non-profits can access the Business Damage Assessment survey at FloridaDisaster.BIZ. Select “COVID-19” from the drop-down menu on the survey page. Response to the Business Damage Assessment survey is not an application for assistance. Businesses interested in the bridge loan program must fill out a bridge loan application.
To complete a Florida Small Business Emergency Bridge loan application by the May 8, 2020 deadline, and for more information about the program, please visit www.FloridaSBDC.org.
For application assistance, please contact the Florida SBDC office nearest you at www.FloridaSBDC.org/locations. For questions regarding the loan program, please contact DEO toll-free at 833-832-4494 or email [email protected].