The Florida Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan Program has been activated by Gov. Rick Scott. The program is a source of practical cash flow to small businesses in Escambia, Santa Rosa, Okaloosa and Walton Counties, which were affected by last month’s severe flooding.
Escambia County building inspectors report about 160 businesses in unincorporated areas have flood damage, 83 of which are major. Businesses in Pensacola have $6 million in damages, while 23 businesses in Santa Rosa County were hit.
But just what is a bridge loan?
“In this purpose, it’s a loan developed to help a company’s cash flow until they get other loan proceeds or insurance payouts,” said Kelly Massey at the Florida Small Business Development Center, which is headquartered at the University of West Florida.
“Small businesses” are defined as those with between two and one hundred employees. Massey says they’ve received about seven applications so far, but are re-publicizing their availability, while processing what’s come in. He adds that there are requirements to follow, and reminds potential applicants that this is NOT a grant.
“If they’ve received a bridge loan before, that loan must be paid back in full,” said Massey. “And of course they have to qualify based on the requirements of the loan committee. So they would have to have some type of method of payback, since it’s a short-term loan.”
The first step towards securing a small business disaster loan begins with visiting the website floridadisasterloan.org. Additional information is available online at sbdc.uwf.edu, or by calling 474-2528.
Florida’s Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan Program was first activated in 1992 after Hurricane Andrew. Thirteen subsequent activations have provided more than $63 million in assistance following the Winter Storm of 1993; Northwest Florida Floods in 1994; tornadoes in 2007; and a spate of Hurricanes including Opal, Ivan, and Dennis.