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Bridge Loans Available for Businesses Hurt by COVID-19

The Florida SBDC at University of South Florida will facilitate the loan process for the Florida Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan Program, for small businesses in 10 counties in the Tampa Bay region, including Polk County.

The Florida Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan Program, activated by Governor Ron DeSantis on Monday, March 16, is available to small businesses in Florida that are experiencing economic damage as a result of COVID-19.

"We understand the urgency surrounding the Florida Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan program," Eileen Rodriguez, regional director of the Florida SBDC at USF, said. "We are here to help and will work with small business owners as quickly as possible, as we are experiencing a high volume of inquiries right now."

The Florida SBDC at USF will accept applications for the following counties: Desoto, Hardee, Hernando, Highlands, Hillsborough, Manatee, Pasco, Pinellas, Polk, and Sarasota.

To qualify, applicants must be for-profit, privately held small businesses that maintain a place of business in Florida. Businesses must also be an employer with 2 to 100 employees. Loans are interest-free for one year. Businesses can qualify for up to $50,000 in most instances. Applications will be accepted through May 8.

Florida SBDC Network business consultants, many of whom are Disaster Recovery Institute (DRI) Certified Business Continuity Professionals, are available to assist small businesses through the loan application process and with other COVID-19-related challenges at no-cost.

The Florida SBDC at USF is available to answer questions and assist small business owners in submitting applications. Loan decisions are made by an independent committee made up of economic development and finance professionals from within the region. Financing is provided by the state of Florida using public funds. The state is also working diligently to make an online application available as well.

For additional qualifications and details for getting started, please visit us online at https:/ Details for how to submit the completed application and documentation are available on this webpage. All updates or changes to the process will be communicated via this webpage as well.

As a principal responder in the state's Emergency Support Function (ESF) 18 for Business & Industry, the Florida SBDC Network is a key economic development organization that supports disaster preparedness, recovery, and mitigation through its Business Continuation services at


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