Gov. Ron DeSantis is extending the Florida Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan Program until July 12, he announced Friday.
The $25 million program was originally activated last October after Hurricane Michael ravaged the Florida panhandle. The program offers interest-free short term loans to agricultural producers in areas affected by the hurricane.
“We are laser-focused on getting real relief and assistance to Floridians in our Northwest Florida communities,” DeSantis said. “Extending the Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan Program deadline will help more Florida farmers get back on their feet sooner.”
The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity administers the Florida Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan Program with the Florida Small Business Development Center Network and Florida First Capital Finance Corporation to provide cash flow to businesses damaged by a disaster. The loans help bridge the gap between the time damage is incurred and when a producer secures other financial resources, including payment of crop insurance claims or federal disaster recovery appropriations.
“Governor DeSantis is determined help communities in the Florida Panhandle fully recover from Hurricane Michael,” said DEO Executive Director Ken Lawson. “This loan will provide much needed assistance to agricultural producers in the impacted areas.”
Applicants can secure up to $200,000 for an up to two-year term. Any amount not repaid within that time frame are subject to a 12 percent annual interest rate and the state can seek collections on delinquent accounts.
Loans are for agricultural producers in the designated disaster areas including Bay, Calhoun, Franklin, Gadsden, Gulf, Holmes, Jackson, Jefferson, Leon, Liberty, Okaloosa, Wakulla, Walton and Washington counties.
Applications for the program are on the Florida Disaster Loan website. Representatives are available by phone during normal business hours at 866-737-7232. Questions about the program can also be emailed to Disaster@FloridaSBDC.org.
Voicemails and emails will be answered within 24-hours.
The program was first activated in 1992 following Hurricane Andrew. This is the 24th time since its inception the program has been utilized.