Following President Obama’s disaster declaration for Escambia and Santa Rosa Counties over last month’s flooding, local, state and federal agencies are deploying to help small businesses recover from the damage.
Pensacola Bay Chamber President Jerry Maygarden announced Monday that they’re banding together with a number of other chambers to help affected businesses in the western Panhandle.
“Not only is it the Greater Pensacola Chamber, but the Gulf Coast African-American Chamber of Commerce; the Gulf Breeze Chamber of Commerce, the Pensacola Beach Chamber of Commerce (and the) Perdido Key Chamber of Commerce,” said Maygarden.
The chambers are partnering with the Florida Small Business Development Center – which is headquartered at the University of West Florida -- to provide easy access for small businesses. That includes equipment such as laptops, printers, satellite access and more. The goal is to make available resources and support for businesses to recover from their flood-related problems.
John Camp with the U-S Small Business Administration says the first step in getting an SBA disaster loan is to register with the Federal Emergency Management Administration at disasterassistance.gov; calling 800-621-FEMA, on or a mobile device at m.fema.gov.
“We are offering businesses low-interest, long-term loans up to $2 million,” said Camp. “We have a change in our program effective with this disaster. We’ve raised our unsecured loan limits for the businesses, for up to $25,000 in economic injury loans, and up to $25,000 for physical loans.”
One-on-one assistance is also available from SBA, at any of the three local FEMA Centers. In Pensacola at the Brownsville Community Center on DeSoto Street; the Gulf Breeze Recreation Center on Shoreline Drive, and at the Milton Campus of Pensacola State College. The centers are open from eight a-m to seven p-m, Monday through Saturday.
Michael Myhre at the FSBDC says they were part of the federal and state activation for business assistance, after Gov. Rick Scott declared an emergency for Escambia, Santa Rosa, Okaloosa and 23 other counties. The Center also has a loan program.
“This is a short-term loan to help bridge the gap between federal assistance, insurance, and other available capital assistance,” Myhre said. “Of up to $25,000 from the State of Florida, and is expected to be repaid in 90 to 180 days.”
Those wishing to qualify for a business disaster loan cannot walk into a FEMA center empty-handed. They’re required to supply documentation of the damage. John Camp with the SBA says first off, applicants need to provide contact information.
Meanwhile, individuals in Escambia and Santa Rosa who have lost their jobs or businesses to the storms and flooding may be entitled to Disaster Unemployment Assistance benefits. To file a claim no later than June 9th, call 800-681-8102 Monday through Friday between 6:30 a-m to 5:30 p-m. Central time.