Hurricane Irma brought heightened anxiety and catastrophic devastation throughout Florida, while producing crashing waves, whipping winds, falling trees and collapsing infrastructures. It also induced heartwarming stories of strangers helping strangers and linemen restoring power to 5.8 million residents. The economic effects of this iconic natural disaster remain present, yet Florida proves itself to be stronger and more resilient than the ravages of a Category 5 hurricane.
Entrepreneurs are the backbone of Florida’s economy, traversing from Key West to Jacksonville and across the Panhandle. Communities throughout Florida depend upon these businesses to successfully recover from the destructive aftermath of Hurricane Irma.
Independent business owners, without the resources of major chains, often struggle to rebuild infrastructures, restaff employees and regenerate revenues after major hurricanes hit. Therefore, Governor Rick Scott activated the Florida Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan Program to support small businesses in Florida’s 67 counties impacted by Hurricane Irma.
The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, in partnership with Florida SBDC Network, allocated up to $10 million for the program to provide short-term, interest-free loans to businesses employing two to 100 individuals and experiencing physical damage or economic injury. This cash flow assistance bridges the gap between the time damage occurred and when a business secures other financial resources, including payment of insurance claims or longer-term Small Business Administration loans.
The entire state of Florida remains affected by Hurricane Irma. However, Floridians are dedicated, determined and devoted to overcoming the economic challenges each will face over the next few months. Florida will survive, grow and prosper as its residents continue to enjoy all Florida has to offer.