Loans available to businesses damaged by Debby

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In an effort to expedite the recovery process for businesses damaged by Tropical Storm Debby, Gov. Rick Scott activated Florida’s Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan Program. The program will provide emergency, short-term, interest-free loans to small businesses in 36 eligible counties to assist in reestablishing business during the interim period before other aid and insurance claims are processed.

The Florida Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan Program provides an expedient cash flow to businesses physically damaged by a disaster. The short-term loans help bridge the gap between the time damage is incurred and when a business secures other financial resources, including regular profits, payment of claims or longer-term loans. Scott has allocated up to $10 million from the state’s General Revenue fund for the program, of which $5 million will be made available immediately. The additional $5 million will be used as necessary.

Owners of small businesses with two to 100 employees in counties impacted by Tropical Storm Debby may apply for short-term loans for $1,000 to $25,000 until Wednesday, Aug. 15. Loans are granted in terms of 90 or 180 days and are interest-free for that time period. To be eligible, a business must have been established prior to the issue of Executive Order 12-140, signed by Scott on June 25, and demonstrate physical damage as a result of Tropical Storm Debby.

Reports prepared by the Nature Coast Business Development Council, Tourist Development Council and other agencies were used in requesting public assistance in Levy, the majority of which was directed at Cedar Key. NCBDC staff visited businesses door to door less than 24 hours after the storm hit there to assess damage and needs.

Numerous hotels and restaurants received flood and rain damage, and many were forced to cancel reservations over concerns of impact from the tropical storm. Federal emergency management personnel visited the county July 9 to review reports, talk to emergency management officials and view damage firsthand. 

As part of the state’s Emergency Support Functions plan, organizations such as the NCBDC are tasked with assisting county emergency management with disaster recovery efforts. Businesses in need of assistance are urged to contact the NCBDC immediately at (352) 493-6797 or director@naturecoast.org to begin the application process.

Florida’s Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan Program was first activated in the aftermath of Hurricane Andrew in an effort to provide short-term emergency funding to businesses in need of immediate cash flow. Since then, the program has minimized the economic impacts of the Winter Storm of 1993, the Northwest Florida Floods of 1994, tornadoes in 2007, and Hurricanes Opal, Georges, Charley, Frances, Ivan, Jeanne, Dennis and Wilma.

To complete an application, or for more information on the program, visit www.floridadisasterloan.org. For questions regarding local administration of the Emergency Bridge Loan Program, contact the Florida Small Business Development Center Network State Office at (850) 473-7800 or toll-free at (866) 737-7232.