Small business loan program helps Tampa companies rebuild

Article about Small business loan program helps Tampa companies rebuild

Small business loan program helps Tampa companies rebuild
Small business loan program helps Tampa companies rebuild

As Hurricane Ian swept across the state, it devastated many Floridians. Small business owners got hit particularly hard. 

In response to this, Gov. Ron DeSantis passed the Florida Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan Program, making $50 million available to small businesses in 22 counties that were economically or physically damaged in the storm, as stated in an Oct. 4 press release by DeSantis’ staff. 

While DeSantis has recently been surrounded by various controversies, he was able to respond adeptly to the hurricane, and his decisions regarding this loan program exemplifies this.

The program has been passed before, but not always effectively. Former Gov. Rick Scott activated the same program in 2017 after Hurricane Irma, as stated in a 2017 press release by the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity. 

Only $10 million was allotted in 2017, as opposed to the current $50 million, and the loans were available for businesses in any of Florida’s counties, as stated in a 2017 press release by the Florida Division of Emergency Management. This means the funds were spread much thinner and not necessarily given to businesses in counties that were hit most severely. 

These small loans are designed to “bridge the gap” between the disaster and the business receiving larger federal or commercial loans. The are short-term loans of up to $50,000 per recipient and the deadline to apply is Dec. 2, according to the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity on their website.

Fortunately, Tampa wasn’t hit as hard as other Florida counties like Lee, Collier and Charlotte. However, small businesses throughout Hillsborough County have still been greatly affected. 

Mojo Books and Records, a local coffee shop and seller of books and records, suffered damage and several days of lost income because of the storm, according to co-owner Melanie Cade.

“We spent Monday and Tuesday hurricane prepping the inventory, sand-bagging the doors, etc.,” Cade said in an Oct. 8 interview with The Oracle.

“The hurricane broke one of our pylon signs by the road and our channel letter sign is no longer lighting up. These will be costly repairs. We were also closed Tuesday-Thursday for the safety of our staff and customers, so that’s a significant loss of income.”

This loan program can go such a long way in helping local businesses rebuild. 

Some Tampa businesses, like Jennie’s Flowers of Tampa Bay, are spending their time and resources helping those in other counties. Their location in Fort Myers was devastated, so a lot of product and labor from the Tampa location went to helping those in Southwest Florida. 

“We lost everything. All of our flowers. We had weddings that we were going to be doing. We had a photo shoot we were going to be doing, so everything’s gone. I’m devastated by what’s going on here,” owner Jean Marie Rakic said in an Oct. 6 article by ABC Action News. 

By passing this loan program, DeSantis gave small business owners a way to begin recovering before larger loans are available. 

Local businesses are an important part of Tampa Bay, and it’s important they have the resources to overcome the damage from this disaster, and this is exactly what the program provides.