Many Floridians, including small business owners, were hoping that business as usual would return sooner rather than later. That hope all but diminished last Wednesday when Governor Ron DeSantis issued a statewide stay-at-home order in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Governor DeSantis also announced that the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (“DEO”) approved the Florida Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan Program (“Program”).
The Program provides short-term, interest-free working capital loans to help small businesses recover. Additionally, federal programs and grants are available under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act or the “CARES Act,” which are outlined in our recent article available HERE. The Program is designed to provide aid that federal Small Business Administration (“SBA”) loans and other commercially available loans cannot fulfill. The Program is available to qualified Florida small business owners who experienced economic damage as a result of COVID-19. Qualified small businesses are for-profit, privately held small businesses that were established prior to March 9, 2020. These businesses must maintain a place of business in the state of Florida and employ between 2 and 100 individuals.
Qualified small businesses may generally borrow up to $50,000. However, loans of up to $100,000 may be issued in special cases as warranted by the need of the eligible small business. Loans will be interest-free for one year. The interest rate will be 12% per annum on the unpaid balance thereafter, until the loan balance is repaid in full. Loan default is subject to a normal commercial collection process. Pursuant to Fla. Stat. § 201.25(1), loans offered by the Program are exempt from excise taxes.
The DEO is providing decisions on loan applications within three days of receiving the applications. Applications will be accepted through May 8, 2020 and the funds are available on a first come, first serve basis. Florida’s resources are strained to near maximum capacity. Navigating the application process and acquiring a direct contact within the State can be arduous. If you require assistance with the Florida small business loan program or if you have other business-related inquiries, please contact Michael Salad, Esquire via e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or direct dial at (954) 889-1850 or Craig Panholzer, Esquire via e-mail email@example.com direct dial at (954) 889-1856.
Michael Salad is a partner in Cooper Levenson’s Business & Tax and Cyber Risk Management practice groups. He concentrates his practice on estate planning, business transactions, mergers and acquisitions, tax matters and cyber risk management. Michael holds an LL.M. in Estate Planning and Elder Law. Michael is licensed to practice law in New Jersey, Florida, New York, Pennsylvania and the District of Columbia.
Craig Panholzer is an associate in Cooper Levenson’s Business & Tax practice group in its Florida office. He concentrates his practice on business transactions, bankruptcy, estate planning, probate, and tax matters.