LABELLE, FL. -- Governor Jeb Bush this week activated Florida's Small
Business Emergency Bridge Loan Program to provide emergency, short-term
loans to businesses in counties severely impacted by Hurricane Wilma.
Applications will be available Friday in Broward, Collier, Glades, Hendry,
Lee, Miami-Dade, Monroe, Okeechobee, Palm Beach counties and the Glades
communities of Belle Glade, Pahokee, and South Bay. The Governor has
allocated $20 million from General Revenue to fund the Bridge Loan Program.
The appropriation is made through a budget amendment pursuant to the
Governor's emergency declaration.
The state's emergency bridge loan program is designed to provide a source
of expedient cash flow to businesses physically damaged during a major
catastrophe, enabling them to quickly begin repairs and replace destroyed
inventory. These short-term loans are intended to bridge the gap between
the time a major catastrophe hits and when a business has secured other
resources, such as profits from revived a business, payment of insurance
claims or secured longer-term loans.
Short-term loans of up to $25,000 will be available to owners of small
businesses (less than 100 employees) in those counties most impacted by
Hurricane Wilma. The interest-free loans come in terms of 90-day or
180-day maturities. To be eligible, a business owner must have been
operational for one full year prior to Hurricane Wilma (October 24) and
have verifiable, physical damage to their business. The time from
application through closing of loans is as little as 72 hours.
For an application or more information on the program, please contact the
Governor's Office of Tourism, Trade, and Economic Development at (850)
487-2568, or the local economic development office in counties most
severely impacted by Hurricane Wilma: Glades, Okeechobee, and the Glades
communities of Belle Glade, Pahokee, South Bay contact Lynn Topel at (800)
620-3602. Hendry County contact Janice Groves at (863) 675-6007