After Hurricane Idalia swept through Florida’s Big Bend region, Governor Ron DeSantis (R-FL) has announced more than $6.4 million for small businesses in the recovery process.
The Florida Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan Program – administered by FloridaCommerce – allows entities affected by the major storm to receive short-term, zero-interest loans if they’ve experienced “economic injury of physical damage.”
Applicants can apply through Oct. 25, 2023, or until all funds have been exhausted.
Gov. Desantis stated that he is "proud of the work" that has been done.
“Getting small businesses open and operating following a disaster spurs economic activity that helps the entire community recover,” said Gov. DeSantis. “I am proud of the work we have done to get funding into the hands of these business owners to help them reopen as quickly as possible.”
Moreover, Florida Secretary of Commerce J. Alex Kelly provided a statement as well.
“FloridaCommerce has been actively deployed to the Big Bend region to ensure that business owners have the help they need to access resources like the Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan Program,” said Secretary Kelly. “We have already approved more than 160 businesses to receive these zero-interest loans and we will continue to be proactive in ensuring that businesses in need are able to take advantage of this program and keep their doors open as they recover.”
According to the Governor’s Office, “Loans approved through the Emergency Bridge Loan Program are intended to ‘bridge the gap’ between the time a disaster impacts a business and when a business has secured longer term recovery funding, such as federally or commercially available loans, insurance claims, or other resources.”
A total of $20 million was made available through the loan program, while $5 million has been set aside for agriculture and aquaculture small businesses. Entities can apply for loans up to $50,000. Agriculture and aquaculture businesses can claim up to $100,000.
Businesses in the following counties can apply for the program: Alachua, Baker, Bradford, Citrus, Columbia, Dixie, Franklin, Gilchrist, Hamilton, Hernando, Hillsborough, Jefferson, Lafayette, Leon, Levy, Madison, Manatee, Marion, Pasco, Pinellas, Sumter, Suwannee, Taylor, Union, and Wakulla County.
Early last month, the Governor announced that the program had already allocated $1.6 million.