By: Sharon Aron Baron
Small businesses that have experienced economic injury from COVID-19 can now apply for an emergency loan.
On Monday, Governor Ron DeSantis activated the Florida Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan Program to support small businesses impacted by COVID-19 and to provide the opportunity for Florida’s small businesses to receive cash immediately to ensure they can lessen the effects felt as a result of the pandemic.
The bridge loan program, managed by the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO), will provide short-term, interest-free loans to small businesses in partnership with the Florida SBDC Network and Florida First Capital Finance Corporation to provide cash flow to businesses economically impacted.
The loans will 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.
Small business owners with two to 100 employees located in Florida affected by COVID-19 can apply for short-term loans up to $50,000.
These 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.
DEO will work with every borrower to ensure that repayment of the loan isn’t an overwhelming burden.
To be eligible, a business must have been established before March 9, 2020, and demonstrate economic impacts as a result of COVID-19.
DEO is currently surveying businesses throughout the state of Florida who has been impacted by COVID-19. Businesses and non-profits can access the Business Damage Assessment survey at FloridaDisaster.BIZ Select “COVID-19” from the drop-down menu on the survey page.
Response to the Business Damage Assessment survey is not an application for assistance. Businesses interested in the bridge loan program must fill out a bridge loan application.
The application period opens March 17, 2020, and runs through May 8, 2020.
For questions regarding the Emergency Bridge Loan Program, contact the Florida Small Business Development Center Network at 866-737-7232 or email Disaster@FloridaSBDC.org.