(TAMPA) – Florida SBDC at University of South Florida business consultant, Bill McKown, located at South Florida State College, assisted Round Orange, LLC in securing the first citrus-based business Emergency Bridge Loan to close in the state, this week. The business is based in Wauchula. The loan was fully processed in just eight days.
The Florida Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan Program was activated by Governor Rick Scott on Sept. 14, 2017, as a result of Hurricane Irma. On. October 6, the program was expanded to include Florida’s citrus businesses.
This interest-free loan program is currently available to small business owners and citrus businesses throughout Florida that experienced physical and/or economic damage as a result of the storm. Small business owners can qualify for up to $50,000 and citrus growers up to $150,000.
Round Orange, LLC owners, Robert and Susan Krause, were in need of the loan due to crop and tree damage, as well as washout. The rain brought on by Hurricane Irma caused a flashflood washout area adjacent to the company’s office, which hindered access to their operations center.
The owners say they will use the loan to manage cash flow between their Hamlin and Valencia crop seasons. Growing both types of oranges helps the company diversify their revenue stream as the Hamlins are usually harvested late in the year while Valencias are harvested in the Spring.
The program provides a source of expedient cash flow to Florida small businesses that have been physically and/or economically impacted by the storm. These short-term, interest-free working capital loans are intended to “bridge the gap” between the time a major catastrophe hits and when a business has secured longer term recovery resources, such as sufficient profits from a revived business, receipt of payments on insurance claims or federal disaster assistance.
The Florida SBDC at USF has been processing loans since mid-September, as the State of Florida’s loan administrator. Business consultants guide business owners through the process and send the completed applications to committee for review. Once approved, Florida SBDC at USF representatives close the loans as well. To date, the Florida SBDC at USF has facilitated loan closings in excess of $3 million for businesses affected by Hurricane Irma, throughout a 10-county region.
In regards to the experience, the Krauses said the ‘SBDC was extremely helpful, professional and thorough.’
The program is open until November 30, 2017 for businesses in need. Details can be found at floridadisasterloan.org.
About the Florida SBDC Network:
For over forty years, the Florida SBDC at USF, the state’s principal provider of business assistance [Fl. Stat. 288.001], has nourished a statewide partnership between higher education and economic development to provide emerging and established business owners with management and knowledge resources that enable overall growth, increased profitability, and economic prosperity for the state. A statewide network of over 40 centers, the Florida SBDC is funded in part by the U.S. Small Business Administration, Defense Logistics Agency, State of Florida and other private and public partners, with the University of West Florida serving as the network’s designated lead host institution. The Florida SBDC Network is nationally accredited by the Association of SBDCs. Florida SBDC services are extended to the public on a nondiscriminatory basis. Language assistance services are available for individuals with limited English proficiency. For more information, please visit www.FloridaSBDC.org.