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Cartoon man using a dollar bill as a bridge loan
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Fla. Activates its Emergency Small Biz Loan Program

The $50M program offers short-term, interest-free loans to small businesses that have suffered economic injury resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – On Monday, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis activated the Florida Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan Program to support small businesses impacted by the current coronavirus pandemic.

The bridge loan program provides short-term, interest-free loans to small businesses that experienced economic injury from COVID-19. The application period opened on March 17 and runs through May 8, 2020.

“I understand the harm (COVID-19) mitigation strategies will have on small businesses throughout our state,” DeSantis said in a statement announcing the program. “By activating the Florida Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan, we are providing the opportunity for Florida’s small businesses to receive cash immediately to ensure they can lessen the impacts felt as a result of COVID-19.”

The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) will administer the program in partnership with the Florida SBDC Network and Florida First Capital Finance Corporation.

The goal of the short-term, interest-free loans is to help businesses bridge the gap between the time an economic impact occurs until the 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 Florida program.

“The Florida Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan will help Florida’s small businesses get through this unsettling time,” adds DEO Director Ken Lawson.

Small business owners with two to 100 employees that are located in Florida and affected by COVID-19 can apply for short-term loans up to $50,000. The loans are interest-free for up to one year and designed to bridge the gap to either federal SBA loans or commercially available loans. DEO says it 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 prior to March 9, 2020, and be able to demonstrate economic impacts as a result of COVID-19.

DEO is currently surveying businesses throughout the state of Florida that have 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.

Note: Response to the Business Damage Assessment survey isn’t an application for assistance. Businesses interested in the bridge loan program must fill out a bridge loan application.

For more information on the program or to apply for assistance, visit floridadisasterloan.org.

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. The phone line will be answered during regular business hours, but all voice mails and emails should get a response within 24 hours.

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