Higher Learning Academy of Polk County
Child care is something people get into because they have a passion for education and teaching children. That was the case for Betty Bent, owner of Higher Learning Academy of Central Florida, located in Lake Wales. Bent cherishes the 45 kids, ages six weeks to 10-years-old, that are under her care on a daily basis. As one can imagine, when Hurricane Irma swept through the area in September 2017, it left the Academy at a stand-still, as the playground area no longer met state standards.
That’s when Bent decided she needed to reach out for some assistance to get things running again. She decided to apply for a State of Florida Emergency Bridge Loan, with the assistance of the Florida SBDC at University of South Florida.
When asked about her experience with the storm and the assistance received, she recalled:
What type of damage occurred?
We lost a lot of outside toys. We lost a lot of mulch and dirt foundation. With DCF, you have to have a certain number of inches in mulch. We had damage where water came into the building. It damaged some of the book casings and it damaged some of the ceiling tiles. We lost all the food we had in the building because we had no power for five days.
How will the Bridge Loan help?
The money from the Bridge loan program will help our business recovery because now I’ll be able to go out and get better structured toys and I can go out and redo the playground and get it up to standards for DCF. It’s going to help us a lot as we proceed with the business.
How was the Florida SBDC at USF helpful during this process?
This has been a nice process from the beginning. The application for the loan was very simple. It was easy to apply and understand. My representative explained everything page for page when I was signing. He even gave me some tips as to how to save in the next six months to be able to pay the money back in a timely manner.