Workers clearing debris

FCA Fence crew volunteers cleared debris to restore fences along highways in Jackson County. Photo credit: Doug Mayo, UF/IFAS Extension

Over the past month every business in the impact zone of Hurricane Michael has felt the anguish of anticipating large expenses that no one had budgeted for.  There are a wide range of disaster programs to support both small businesses and farming operations.  One of the greatest challenges, however, is the immediate need for cash to get an operation going again.  For farmers, the are several disaster programs that provide 75% cost share on things like debris removal, livestock fence repair, and timber planting.  The challenge is that you have to pay the expenses first and then turn in the receipts for reimbursement.  Whether you need to hire extra labor, contractors, rent special equipment, or make immediate purchases, you may need some cash to get started while you secure the longer-term financing needed to cover theses unexpected expenses.  All of the recovery tasks seem overwhelming, but at least there are a number of agencies available to provide assistance.  The hard part is making sure people are aware wide range of services that are available to help with disaster recovery.  Thus the point of this article, there is a new program available for a short period of time worth getting more information about.

On October 12, Governor Scott activated the Florida Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan Program:

The Florida Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan Program supports small businesses impacted by Hurricane Michael. The bridge loan program, managed by the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO), will provide short-term, interest-free loans to small businesses that experienced physical or economic damage during Hurricane Michael. The application period runs through December 7, 2018.

Governor Scott said, “The damage we have seen from Hurricane Michael is indescribable and unprecedented for the Panhandle. We are aggressively working to restore power in these communities so that our small businesses can get back on their feet. We will do everything we can to help our small businesses – that truly are the heart of the Panhandle. The small business bridge loan program will help small business owners and communities get back up and running and I encourage all affected business owners to apply today.”

DEO administers the Florida Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan Program in partnership with the Florida SBDC Network to provide cash flow to businesses damaged by a disaster. The short-term, interest-free loans help bridge the gap between the time damage is incurred and when a business secures other financial resources, including payment of insurance claims or longer-term Small Business Administration loans. Up to $10 million has been allocated for the program.

Key points of the Florida Emergency Bridge Loans:
  • For small business up to 100 employees
  • $25,000 per eligible small business with fewer than 2 employees
  • $50,000 per eligible small business with 2 to 100 employees.  Loans of up to $100,000 may be made in special cases as warranted by the need of the eligible small business.
  • Have one year to repay loan
  • Only one loan per business
  • 0% interest if repaid with in a year.   12% interest on the unpaid balance thereafter, until balance is paid in full.
  • Applications will be accepted through December 7, 2018
  • 7-10 day approval period

Sources for more information about this program:

Florida Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan Program

FL Emergency Bridge Loan application form

Call the Florida Small Business Development Center Network – 866-737-7232

Vsit the FEMA Disaster Recovery Center (DRC) near you:

Bay County – DRC #11 – Bay County Public Library 898 W 11th Street, Panama City, FL 32401
Bay County – DRC # 13 – John B. Gore Park 530 Beulah Avenue, Callaway, FL 32404
Calhoun County – DRC #10 – Sam Atkins Park NW Silas Green Street, Blountstown, FL 32424
Franklin County – DRC #2 – Carrabelle Public Library 311 St. James Ave, Carrabelle, FL 32322
Gadsden County – DRC #7 – Old Gretna Elementary School 706 Martin Luther King Jr Blvd, Gretna, FL 32332
Gulf County – DRC #9 – Port St. Joe Library 110 Library Drive, Port St. Joe, FL 32456
Gulf County – DRC #12 Wewahitchka Town Hall 211 Hwy 71, Wewahitchka, FL 32465
Holmes County – DRC #5 – Holmes County Agricultural Center 1169 US 90, Bonifay, FL 32425
Jackson County – DRC #3 – Jackson County Extension Office 2737 Penn Ave, Marianna, FL 32448
Jackson County – Jackson County Mobile DRC Route 6910 Hall Street, Grand Ridge, FL 32442
Leon County – DRC #4 – Collins Main Library 200 West Park Avenue, Tallahassee, FL 32301
Liberty County – DRC #8 – Veterans Memorial Park 10405 NW Theo Jacobs Way, Bristol, FL 32321
Wakulla County – DRC #1 – Community One Stop 318 Shadeville Hwy, Crawfordville, FL
Washington County – DRC #6 – Washington County Agricultural Center 1424 W Jackson Ave, Chipley, FL 32428