Gov. Ron DeSantis has activated a bridge loan program that will provide short-term, interest-free loans to small businesses feeling the economic turbulence from the new coronavirus.
The activation of the Florida Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan Program comes as the governor has ordered all bars and nightclubs to close for a month in an attempt to stop the spread out COVID-19. DeSantis also said restaurants must operate at 50% capacity.
“As we mitigate against the spread of COVID-19, the health, safety and well-being of Floridians comes first,” DeSantis said. “I understand the harm mitigation strategies will have on small businesses throughout our state. 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 application period opened Tuesday, March 17, and runs through May 8.
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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. Florida Department of Economic Opportunity 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 and demonstrate economic impacts as a result of COVID-19.
The Department of Economic Opportunity is also surveying businesses throughout the state 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. Response to the survey is not an application for assistance. Businesses interested in the bridge loan program must fill out a bridge loan application.
For more information on the program, visit www.floridadisasterloan.org. For questions regarding the Emergency Bridge Loan Program, contact the Florida Small Business Development Center Network by calling 866-737-7232 or emailing Disaster@FloridaSBDC.org.