As hurricane season approaches, ATLYS Global has developed a targeted solution to ensure Florida disaster recovery gets done
Image via Atlys Global

Atlys Global
Federal dollars help make states whole when disaster strikes, but delays in reimbursements can shut some businesses out of the recovery business. That's where ATLYS Global comes it.

In Florida, the question is never “will a hurricane hit,” it’s “when, where and how much damage will it cause?”

Florida is often ground zero for hurricanes, and the destruction can be catastrophic, leaving the state searching for qualified contractors to complete necessary restoration efforts.

One company, ATLYS Global, has established itself in Florida with a novel solution to ensure all contractors are able to participate in the disaster recovery business, regardless of the company’s size or credit capacity.

To understand the unique ATLYS solution, it’s important to first understand the challenge it is solving.

When disaster strikes — whether it’s a wildfire in California, tornado in Kansas or hurricane in Florida — the federal government allocates resources to ensure adequate recovery in communities affected. Since 2017, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Disaster Relief Fund allocations have totaled $223 billion dollars.

Of those funds, only $114 billion dollars have been disbursed, as of February 2024. In Florida, more than $18 billion dollars have been allocated and only $13 billion disbursed, leaving contractors holding a $5 billion dollar bill. This means contractors are forced to carry operations through huge gaps in reimbursements for recovery work performed.

This is not a new problem. In May 2020, the bipartisan Congressional Research Service (CRS) released an analysis of the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. A recurring theme in the report was tied to the inability or latency in releasing federal funds for infrastructure projects.

The report concluded these disbursement hurdles are directly related to the creation of new programs, requiring a novel approach using available liquidity. As an example, CRS found infrastructure programs only received 9% of allocated funding in the first six months. The report noted that after eighteen months, only 50% of allocated infrastructure funds had been disbursed.

Frank Robinson image via ATLYS Global.

“Short-term liquidity for contractors to operate and carry the life-span of projects is critical to the recovery process. Think about the billions of dollars allocated and obligated from the Federal Government to the recovery of Hurricanes Ian and Idalia. Where is Florida finding $3 billion dollars of contractor and subcontractor credit capacity to do that work?” ATLYS Global founder and President Frank Robinson said.

“Part of the challenge is that FEMA and (the Department of Housing and Urban Development) are reimbursable programs, which means somebody has to incur that $3 billion worth of work in order for it to be paid and draw down from the federal government.”

More simply, contractors and subcontractors must spend out-of-pocket costs and wait an unknown amount of time to be reimbursed. Imagine a contractor doing work on a house only to have a homeowner tell them they will definitely get paid at some point in the future, but they don’t know when. With disaster recovery, contractors face this dilemma every day.

For a lot of contractors and subcontractors, that kind of capital just isn’t available from traditional lending institutions. Even if contractors have strong balance sheets to carry the work, traditional lending will not match the capital surge capacity required to enter and sustain the recovery marketplace.

This reality creates an environment where only a few firms can compete for these projects. Many of these large firms will enter “pay when paid” contractual relationships with subcontractors. This de-risks the big firms but places the liquidity burdens on the actual subcontractors swinging the hammers in the Florida heat.

This is where ATLYS Global comes in.

 

The ATLYS Global Federal Contractor Finance Program (FCFP) specifically targets disaster response and recovery. It provides financing, on a weekly basis, to contractors performing work on projects tied to government contracts.

The financing is not solely based on creditworthiness, but focuses on the obligated repayment as the main source of collateral. The ATLYS model also considers the sudden and significant demands for capital, especially given the considerable costs involved in projects such as rebuilding entire communities or replacing complex infrastructure.

The FCFP is the only “non-recourse” financing solution on the market. ATLYS has the capacity to lend billions of dollars annually, providing small businesses the opportunity to compete with much larger ones that maintain large lines of traditional borrowing credit.

“When contractors and subcontractors at every level have access to immediate operational capital, recovery happens quicker and those affected by the disaster have a more efficient path to normalcy,” Robinson said.

When a disaster hits, local economies are often hurt or decimated. Local businesses need the economic boom that comes with federal recovery funds.

“Let’s look at Lee County,” Robinson said. “Recently, $1.1 billion worth of projects were awarded to contractors to rebuild. These federal dollars are going to take months after work has started to benefit the local economy. With ATLYS providing non-recourse capital every week to contractors working in Lee County, the local restaurants, retail and other businesses will see that economic activity much quicker, at a time when they likely need it most.”

Timothy Touhey image via ATLYS Global.

“We’re able to work with local contractors who may not qualify for the required credit and might otherwise just not even bid on projects because they know they don’t have the captial,” ATLYS Global CEO Timothy Touhey added.

The FCFP has issued more than $350 million in loans over the past five years.

In addition to Florida, the program is available nationally and ATLYS has done business in Texas, New Jersey, Arkansas, California, North Dakota, Mississippi, South Carolina, North Carolina, Louisiana, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.

In Florida, ATLYS Global has hired the Ballard Firm and recently brought on Ken Lawson to serve as its Lead Director for the ATLYS Florida Business Center. Lawson, a Marine, previously served as the Executive Director of the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity where helping Floridians recover from Hurricanes Hermine, Matthew, Irma and Michael was a top priority.

Ken Lawson image via ATLYS Global.

In that role, he gained firsthand experience not just responding to disaster, but with navigating the challenge that comes with finding enough crews to complete the work needed for restoration.

Lawson described the challenge in an op-ed in Florida Politics in 2020.

“States must wait on Congress to appropriate (Community Development Block Grant) funding. Then HUD must tell states how much they will receive for each disaster. Next, HUD must publish a federal register on how the funding will work for that storm,” he wrote at the time.

Lawson went on to describe how each state must develop and submit a state action plan, and then HUD typically has 60 days to review plans before establishing a grant agreement. Only after that agreement has been reached can states begin distributing funds.

As one might imagine, it’s a long process, one Lawson said can take as much as six months.

“This is why the FCFP program is so vital in disaster response,” Lawson says now. “Not every company can afford to front projects for which they won’t be reimbursed for several months. And even those who can are losing access to important capital they could be using during that time to complete other projects or expand their businesses.”

In December 2023, ATLYS hosted, and Lawson moderated a discussion (shown in the featured photo at the top of this post) on the funding challenges faced by Florida disaster recovery contractors. The panel consisted of leaders from the Florida Division of Emergency Management, FloridaCommerce, and the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation.

ATLYS, as an alternative funding source, was highlighted to ensure that disaster recovery contractors have the liquidity to rebuild homes and contribute to the infusion of federal disaster funding into Florida’s economy.

ATLYS Executives have direct experience in knowing how to better respond to disasters. The innovative Atlys approach to funding may be the best opportunity for local contractors to provide swift recovery for individuals, businesses and overall economies that suffer from a storm.

“This is one of those situations where you wish this wasn’t a need,” Touhey said. “But disasters are a reality in Florida, and these types of innovations — we hope — help make the difference for the people affected.”

___

To learn more about ATLYS Global and the FCFP program:

Website: Home | Atlys Global

Contact Ken Lawson at: [email protected] 

Janelle Irwin Taylor

Janelle Irwin Taylor has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in Tampa Bay since 2003. Most recently, Janelle reported for the Tampa Bay Business Journal. She formerly served as senior reporter for WMNF News. Janelle has a lust for politics and policy. When she’s not bringing you the day’s news, you might find Janelle enjoying nature with her husband, children and two dogs. You can reach Janelle at [email protected].


7 comments

  • Don T. Bleefet

    May 12, 2024 at 5:24 am

    Is this an ad?

    Reply

    • rick whitaker

      May 12, 2024 at 8:44 pm

      AN AD TO MAKE MONEY FROM A DISASTER WITH THE POTENTIAL TO FORCLOSE ON LARGE AMOUNTS OF ASSETS. BIG CON JOB

      Reply

      • forsaken

        May 15, 2024 at 12:28 pm

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  • No more money sorry

    May 12, 2024 at 4:41 pm

    The way Florida and every red state hates the federal government except when they want money. I say pound sand

    Reply

  • rick whitaker

    May 12, 2024 at 8:44 pm

    BIG CON JOB

    Reply

  • PeterH

    May 15, 2024 at 8:32 am

    I’m certain reconstruction of businesses in Mexico Beach BEFORE residential is a great idea. Establish businesses in an area with zero customers. 🙄

    Reply

  • Dont Say FLA

    May 15, 2024 at 8:35 am

    Is this another cut taking middleman scheme from Casey? Sure smells like that.

    Reply

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