What aid is out there and what’s coming

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought the world economy to a grinding halt and governments are taking unprecedented measures to stave off a global recession with massive aid packages and financial plans.

In the Florida Keys, residents and business owners will have programs from all levels of government to help them through the coronavirus crisis.


Keys banks and financial institutions have their drive-through windows open for business and are offering scheduled appointments for unique circumstances.  All, if not most, will serve as the lenders for the federal CARE Act signed into law last Friday. According to a more than a couple local bankers, the information (as of press time) has been slow coming, but all the institutions listed below are developing plans to efficiently process the loans.

* Centennial Bank has all branches and drive-through windows open for regular business hours with the exception of the temporary closure of the Whitehead branch.  Appointments are available for in-person meetings. The bank is also offering a 90-day deferral program on consumer and commercial loans and portfolio mortgages.

* Keys Federal Credit Union is offering a special “Keys Personal Loan” equal to a month’s salary for 36 months with no payment for the first 90 days. The credit union  is also offering deferred payments for 90 days on any new auto, boat or personal loans. Drive-through banking is available along with personal appointments.

* First State Bank of the Florida Keys is keeping most of its drive-through windows and ATMs open for regular business. Three smaller branches have been temporarily closed while the hours for the Boulevard branch have been extended until 7 p.m., Monday through Saturday. Appointments are available. The bank is also offering two loan deferral programs.



*The State Bridge Loan is an emergency funding source designed for small businesses to “bridge the gap” between a downturn in revenue and injection of new capital – whether that is normal business proceeds, another funding source like a private loan or a grant. The process includes a seven-page application and the submission of documents like personal and corporate taxes, and payroll reports. Loan amounts of up to $100,000 are available. The application process is open and ongoing. More information is at floridasbdc.org/disaster/ebl.


*On March 27, President Trump signed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act into law as a $2 trillion economic relief and stimulus package.

The bill is broken down into seven major components including individuals ($560 billion), big corporations ($500 billion), small businesses ($377 billion), state and local governments ($339 billion), health and public health ($153.5 billion), education ($47.8 billion) and a $26 billion safety net.

According to local bankers familiar with the program, more details will be coming by the end of the week with the hopes of the application process beginning sometime next week.

For more information on aid for individuals, turn to page 18.

*Paycheck Protection Plan: $350 billion is pledged “to help small businesses keep workers employed amid the pandemic and economic downturn.” Known as the Paycheck Protection Program, the initiative provides 100% federally guaranteed loans to small businesses who maintain their payroll during this emergency.

Importantly, these loans may be forgiven if borrowers maintain their payrolls during the crisis or restore their payrolls afterward.

The program is eligible for businesses with fewer than 500 employees and provides loans equal to 250% of the company’s average monthly payroll or up to $10 million.

The program is slated to begin accepting applications from small businesses and sole proprietorships on Friday, April 3. The application process will be open to independent contractors and self-employed individuals on April 10. Applications will be accepted through any existing SBA lender or through any federally insured depository institution, federally insured credit union, and Farm Credit System institution that is participating. For a complete overview of the program, visit https://www.sba.gov/funding-programs/loans/paycheck-protection-program-ppp.

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