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Governor activates emergency loan program for small businesses

By Staff | Mar 17, 2020

On March 16, Gov. Ron DeSantis activated the Florida Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan Program to support small businesses impacted by COVID-19. 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 economic injury from COVID-19.

The application period opened today, March 17, and runs through May 8.

“As we mitigate against the spread of COVID-19, the health, safety and well-being of Floridians comes first,” DeSantis said. “I understand the harm mitigation strategies will have on small businesses throughout our state. 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.”

The DEO will administer the Florida Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan Program in partnership with the Florida SBDC Network and Florida First Capital Finance Corporation to provide cash flow to businesses economically impacted by COVID-19. The loans help bridge the gap between the time the economic impact occurred and when a business secures other financial resources, including payment of insurance claims or longer-term Small Business Administration (SBA) loans. Up to $50 million has been allocated for the program.

“The Florida Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan will help Florida’s small businesses get through this unsettling time,” Florida DEO Executive Director Ken Lawson said. “We appreciate the governor’s efforts to keep Florida’s small businesses top of mind and our partners at the Florida SBDC Network and Florida First Capital Finance Corporation to help them recover.”

Small business owners with two to 100 employees in Florida affected by COVID-19 can apply for loans up to $50,000. The loans are interest-free for up to one year and are designed to bridge the gap to either federal SBA loans or commercially available loans. The DEO will work with every borrower to ensure that repayment of the loan is not an overwhelming burden. To be eligible, a business must have been established prior to March 9 and demonstrate economic impacts as a result of COVID-19.

“Mitigating the spread of COVID-19 in Florida must be our number one priority,” Florida SBDC Network Chief Executive Officer Mike Myhre said.

The?DEO is surveying businesses throughout the state that have been impacted by COVID-19. Businesses and non-profits can access the Business Damage Assessment Survey at FloridaDisaster.BIZ under the “Respond” tab; select “COVID-19” on the survey page. Response is not an application for assistance. Businesses interested in the bridge loan program must fill out a bridge loan application.

For more information, visit www.floridadisasterloan.org.

For questions regarding the Emergency Bridge Loan Program, contact the Florida Small Business Development Center Network at 866-737-7232 or Disaster@FloridaSBDC.org. The phone line will be answered during regular business hours; voice mails and emails will be answered within 24 hours.