On Wednesday afternoon, Gov. Ron DeSantis activated the Florida Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan Program to help agriculture hurt by Hurricane Michael which hit the Panhandle back in October.
“The program will have $25 million to help agricultural producers prepare for the upcoming growing seasons as part of ongoing recovery efforts from Hurricane Michael,” the governor’s office noted. “Designated disaster areas include Bay, Calhoun, Franklin, Gadsden, Gulf, Holmes, Jackson, Jefferson, Leon, Liberty, Okaloosa, Wakulla, Walton and Washington counties. The application period opens today and runs through June 30, 2019.”
DeSantis weighed in on why he had activated the program.
“Since day one, my administration has been laser-focused on making sure Floridians in Northwest Florida completely recover from Hurricane Michael,” said DeSantis. “The activation of the Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan Program will provide much-needed relief to Florida farmers whose crops were decimated by this storm and will help in our efforts to bring Northwest Florida back stronger than before.”
The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO), the Florida Small Business Development Center (SBDC) Network and the Florida First Capital Finance Corporation will manage the program.
“The short-term, interest-free loans help bridge the gap between the time damage is incurred and when a producer secures other financial resources, including payment of crop insurance claims or federal disaster recovery appropriations,” the governor’s office noted. “Florida agricultural producers with land in production that has suffered physical damage and/or economic injury as a result of Hurricane Michael can apply for the short-term loans up to $200,000. To be eligible, the agricultural producer must have been established prior to Oct. 7, 2018.”
“We appreciate Governor DeSantis’ leadership as communities in the Florida Panhandle are continuing to recover from the impacts of Hurricane Michael,” said DEO Executive Director Ken Lawson. “This loan will provide agricultural producers in the impacted areas the opportunity to prepare for the upcoming growing seasons.”
“As agricultural producers are preparing for the upcoming growing seasons, we want them to know we are here to help walk them through the loan process as they pick up the pieces from the devastating impacts of Hurricane Michael,” said Mike Myhre, the CEO of the Florida SBDC Network. “We appreciate Governor DeSantis for working to find solutions for these small businesses. It is a pleasure to partner with the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity to help small businesses throughout the Florida Panhandle.”
Applications must be complete by June 30.