Florida SBDC at Florida Gulf Coast University (Fort Myers, FL) – Florida businesses that have been impacted by Lake Okeechobee Discharge/Algae Blooms and Red Tide may now apply for short-term, interest-free loans through the Florida Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan Program. Activated today by Governor Rick Scott, the bridge loan program helps bridge the gap for small businesses between the time impact occurs until other resources are available, including insurance claims.  Currently, there is no federal assistance designated for this occurrence. The deadline to apply is September 7, 2018.

Under the program, small businesses in:

  • Designated Disaster Areas: Lake Okeechobee Discharge/Algae Blooms: Glades, Hendry, Lee, Martin, Okeechobee, Palm Beach and St. Lucie counties.
  • Red Tide: Charlotte, Collier, Hillsborough, Lee, Manatee, Pinellas and Sarasota counties.

are eligible to apply, a business must have been in business prior to July 9, 2018, for Lake Okeechobee Discharge/Algae Blooms and August 13, 2018, for Red Tide and suffered physical damage and/or economic injury as a result of the designated disaster.

The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) administers the Florida Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan Program.

The Emergency Bridge Loan Program is not designed to be the primary source of assistance to affected small businesses, which is why eligibility is linked to pursuit of other sources.

Note: Loans made under this program are short-term debt loans made by the state of Florida using public funds. They are not grants. Emergency bridge loans require repayment by the approved applicant from business receipts, insurance proceeds received, or longer-term disaster recovery assistance.

The State of Florida is assessing the damage, small businesses that have incurred losses due to Lake Okeechobee Discharge/Algae Blooms and Red Tide are asked to complete a Business Damage Assessment Survey. The survey will help the State Emergency Response Team determine the needs and level of assistance for impacted businesses. To take the survey, please click here.

As a principal responder in the state’s Emergency Support Function (ESF) 18 for Business, Industry, and Economic Stabilization, the Florida SBDC Network supports disaster preparedness, response, recovery, and mitigation through its Business Continuation Services.

As part of its service offering, the Florida SBDC at Florida Gulf Coast University has professionally certified consultants and disaster specialists are available to provide confidential, no-cost consulting to help affected businesses prepare disaster loan applications and with other post-disaster challenges.

“Our goal is to ensure that small business owners impacted by man-made and natural disasters can stay strong and stay open,” said Lois Knox, Regional Director for the Florida SBDC at Florida Gulf Coast University. “Small business owners have a valuable resource in their Florida SBDC, our consultants are here and ready to help guide you through the business continuation process .”

For more information, and to submit an application, please visit www.floridadisasterloan.org.

For questions about the Emergency Bridge Loan Program and how the Florida SBDC aft Florida Gulf Coast University can help, please contact us at (239) 745-3700 or sbdc@fgcu.edu