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corner of content windowHurricane Frances News
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: September 14, 2004 
CONTACT: Jacob Dipietre (850) 488-5394, Scott Openshaw (850) 487-2568

Governor Bush Announces Emergency "Bridge Loans" Available for Businesses Severely Impacted by Frances

TALLAHASSEE - Governor Jeb Bush today announced the activation of Florida's Small Business Emergency 'Bridge Loan' Program to provide emergency, short-term loans to businesses located in the counties most severely impacted by Hurricane Frances. This newest activation dovetails on a sister bridge loan program put into effect in the aftermath of Hurricane Charley and is only applicable to businesses that incurred severe physical damage during Frances.

"We know the last few weeks have been extremely difficult for those business owners impacted by Charley and now Frances," said Governor Bush. "Restoring our vibrant small business community is key to Florida's recuperation from the recent storms, and this "Bridge Loan" program is an integral part of our recovery effort. By offering an immediate source of cash flow for businesses most in need, these short-term loans can serve as a bridge from being "Out of operation" to 'We're back in business'! "

The state's emergency bridge loan program is designed to provide a source of expedient cash flow to businesses impacted by a major catastrophe, enabling them to quickly begin repairs and replace inventory, etc. The 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, sufficient profits from revived business, receipt of payments on insurance claims, and secured longer-term loans to include U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) disaster loans.

The Florida Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan Program was first activated in the aftermath of Hurricane Andrew in an effort to provide short-term emergency funds to businesses in need of immediate cash flow. The bridge loan program has subsequently been used to minimize economic impacts of the Winter Storm of 1993, the Northwest Florida Floods of 1994, Hurricane Opal, Hurricane Georges, and most recently, Hurricane Charley.

Short-term loans of up to $25,000 will be available to owners of small businesses (less than 100 employees) in counties most impacted by Hurricane Frances. 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 Frances (September 7), and have verifiable, physical damage to their business.

Each county authorized to participate in the Program will administer its own bridge loans, in direct cooperation with the State of Florida, Enterprise Florida, Inc., and local participating banks. A five-member committee comprised of three local bankers, one community representative, and one representative from Enterprise Florida, Inc., or the Governor's Office of Tourism, Trade, and Economic Development reviews applications for approval. Intended to be an agile process, the time from application through closing of loans can be as little as 72 hours.

Starting Thursday, the Frances emergency bridge loan applications will be available in Martin, Brevard, St. Lucie, and Indian River Counties. Additional bridge loan programs will be set up in other surrounding counties hardest hit by Hurricane Frances. For more an application or more information on the program, please contact the local Economic Development Office in those counties most severely impacted by Frances.

Also available through the U.S. Small Business Administration are long-term, disaster assistance loans of up to $1.5 million to support businesses and non-profit organizations to repair damage to real estate, machinery, equipment, and inventory as a result of Hurricane Charley and Frances. The SBA business disaster loans are provided at low interest (2.9%) and long-term (up to 30 years). For more information on SBA disaster assistance loans, go to http://www.sba.gov. To apply for an SBA disaster assistance loan, victims of Frances are urged to contact 1-800-621-FEMA to register for disaster assistance with FEMA, who will also refer business recovery needs to SBA for priority loan consideration.


Last updated: July 08, 2005

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