As federal and state options for small business assistance evolve, the Florida SBDC at FIU Business (FSBDC) continues to provide much-needed help in sorting through available programs and guiding businesses toward solutions.
As of April 10, 2020, the center helped local businesses obtain nearly $4.5 million in Florida Small Business Emergency Bridge Loans, which provide up to $50,000 loans to small businesses impacted by COVID-19. The Bridge Loan program was closed April 14, when the $50 million in funding from the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity had been allocated to 1,000 loans throughout the State of Florida.
Consultants at the FSBDC are now focused on assisting businesses seeking assistance through the EIDL (SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loan) and the PPP (SBA Paycheck Protection Program) which are funded by the CARES Act and administered by the U.S. Small Business Administration.
“Given the uncertainty and widespread impact of this coronavirus, businesses are desperate for cash to keep operating,” said Brian Van Hook, regional director of the FSBDC, which provides no-cost consulting to entrepreneurs and small-business owners.
While there are a number of resources available, confusion about processes and eligibility are making it harder for business owners who need to access these programs. Knowing where to go, and what program is the best fit for each business, is one of the toughest parts.
The FSBDC team will guide applicants to the best resource for them, explain the eligibility criteria, assist with applications, walk them through the review process and help get funds into the business’ hands.
“The biggest benefit to our clients is to map out the programs and how they fit together,” Van Hook added. “Also, how to put the funds to best use after they get approved.”
The FSBDC at FIU, which began offering services in Miami-Dade County in 2014, provides no-cost consulting and guidance on topics including growth acceleration, access to capital and market analysis.
Since then, the center has helped launch more than 193 businesses and assisted local entrepreneurs and small-business owners in creating or retaining 9,990 jobs; generating $1.33 billion in increased sales; acquiring $123.3 million in government contracts; and accessing $145.5 million in capital. The center also expanded services to Monroe County in October 2018.
“It has always been clear how small businesses are the backbone and drivers of our local economy,” said Van Hook. “COVID-19 is shining a light not just on this but also how interconnected South Florida businesses are – from large to small.”
As part of FIU’s efforts to assist local small businesses, more than 140 South Florida restaurants have helped employees through the SOBEWFF® & FIU Chaplin School Hospitality Relief Fund.
So far, grants totaling more than $830,000 have been given to independently owned restaurants and bars in Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties. Many of these family operated establishments are owned by FIU alumni, have hired FIU student interns and have even given graduates their first job. The program awards grant of up to $15,000 per business ($500 per employee).
The fund was launched with $1 million, including a founding donation of $500,000 by the Chaplin School, taken from the proceeds given yearly to the school by the South Beach Wine & Food Festival®. Additional donations came from school partners Bacardi USA and Badia Spices, in addition to other corporations and individuals for a total of nearly $1.2 million to date.
Where To Go For Help:
SOBEWFF® & FIU Chaplin School Hospitality Relief Fund