CARES Act: Relief Available from the State of Florida


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Florida Emergency Bridge Loan Program

In response to the unprecedented economic damage sustained by small businesses in Florida due to the rapid spread of the COVID-19 Coronavirus, Governor Ron DeSantis has opened the Florida Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan Program (the “Bridge Loan Program”) to certain qualified small businesses.

This Bridge Loan Program was first enacted in 1992 following Hurricane Andrew. It is administered by the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity and has been utilized on 26 prior occasions, although the COVID-19 crisis may present the direst financial circumstances faced by small businesses in the Bridge Loan Program’s history. The State has allocated $50 million to the Bridge Loan Program.

Terms and Requirements of the Bridge Loan Program

  • Provides interest-free loans to qualifying Florida businesses that have been negatively impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak;
  • Borrowers must be privately held, for profit businesses;
  • Must have a Florida business presence;
  • Must have 2 to 100 employees;
  • Maximum loan amount: $50,000 (although $100,000 loans will be considered in special circumstances);
  • One-year term;
  • Initial interest rate: 0%;
  • Business must have been formed prior to March 9, 2020;
  • Economic harm from COVID-19 outbreak must be demonstrated; and
  • Limit is one loan to each small business, and all prior loans under the Bridge Loan Program must be repaid

Important Caveats and Considerations
It is very important to realize that this Bridge Loan Program only provides actual loan funds – it is not a grant program and the loans will not be forgiven at a later date.

If a borrower does not repay the loan funds when due, the annual interest rate on the loan will increase from zero to 12%. The Bridge Loan Program will also utilize standard commercial collection efforts to recover funds not repaid when due.

If you are considering applying for a bridge loan or would like assistance with your application, please contact Bob White.

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Rebuild Florida Business Loan Fund

In May 2019, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis announced the launch of the Rebuild Florida Business Loan program, which makes a total of $40 million in Florida and federal funds available to Florida businesses. The loan program helps Florida businesses with recovery and resiliency in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma and later disasters.

The loan program resulted from a partnership between the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) and the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, which administers the program. The EDA provided $32 million to the program and the State of Florida provided $8 million. The loan program assists existing and new businesses that were impacted directly or indirectly by a disaster to rebuild and expand. The program was intended to help close the gap in available, affordable capital for Florida businesses by providing longer term loans of up to $500,000 at market interest rates.

Loans under this program are for a broad number of purposes, including:

  • Inventory Purchases;
  • Construction or renovation;
  • Working capital needs;
  • Capital start-up loans;
  • Machinery and equipment purchases; and
  • Equipment financing.

Gunster stands ready to help you with any questions or concerns regarding the Rebuild Florida Business Loan program or its application process.

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The provisions provided on this webpage are not legal advice.  For specific legal advice related to the CARES Act, contact Jonathan Osborne.