The Florida Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan Program was activated by Gov. Rick Scott on August 13, 2018, to support small businesses who continue to be affected by the Lake Okeechobee algal bloom and impacts from naturally occurring red tide.
This interest-free loan program is currently available to small business owners located in designated disaster areas that experienced physical and/or economic damage as a result of these events.  Small business owners can qualify for up to $50,000 per eligible business.
These short-term, interest-free working capital loans are intended to “bridge the gap” between the time a major catastrophe hits and when a business has secured longer term recovery resources, such as sufficient profits from a revived business, receipt of payments on insurance claims or federal disaster assistance.
The Emergency Bridge Loan Program is not designed to be the primary source of assistance to affected small businesses, which is why eligibility is linked to pursuit of other sources. Note: Loans made under this program are short-term debt loans made by the state of Florida using public funds. They are not grants.  Emergency bridge loans require repayment by the approved applicant from the proceeds of insurance claims, other loans applied for or to be applied for, or other financial assistance the borrower receives after receipt of the loan.
Loan Details
  • Designated Disaster AreasLake Okeechobee Discharge/Algae Blooms: Glades, Hendry, Lee, Martin, Okeechobee, Palm Beach and St. Lucie counties.  Red Tide: Charlotte, Collier, Hillsborough, Lee, Manatee, Pinellas and Sarasota counties.
  • Qualified Applicant: Applications will be accepted by qualified for-profit, privately held small businesses that maintain a place of business in the state of Florida.  All qualified applicants must have been established prior to July 9, 2018, for Lake Okeechobee Discharge/Algae Blooms and August 13, 2018, for Red Tide and suffered physical damage and/or economic injury as a result of the designated disaster.  Qualified small business applicants must be an employer business with a minimum of two (2) and maximum of one hundred (100) employees.
  • Amount: Between $1,000 and $50,000 per eligible small business.
  • Term: Loans may be for periods of up to 180 days.
  • Limitation: Only one loan may be made per eligible business. All previous bridge loans received MUST be paid in full.
  • Interest: Loans will be interest free for the term of the loan (180 days).  The interest rate will be 18% per annum on the unpaid balance thereafter, until the loan balance is repaid in full.
  • Payments: Loans must be repaid in full by the maturity date of the established term.
  • Payment Process: Loan payments will be made directly by borrowers to Florida First Capital Finance Corporation, the state of Florida appointed fiscal administrator of the program.
  • Use of Proceeds: A borrower will be required to sign an agreement that proceeds of the loan will be used only for purposes of maintaining or restarting the business in the designated area.  Use of proceeds to pay off debts already incurred for qualifying business maintenance or restart purposes may be authorized on a case-by-case basis.
  • Dedicated Sources of Payment: A borrower will be required to certify that the proceeds of insurance claims, other loans applied for or to be applied for, or other financial assistance the borrower receives after receipt of the loan shall be applied to the loan and restricted from any other use by the borrower until full satisfaction of the loan has been made.
  • Loan Default Notice: Each loan must be repaid in full by the maturity date established in the loan promissory note.  Any loan not repaid in full on or before the maturity date will be considered in default.  A defaulted loan will incur interest and may be assigned to a collection agency.  In the event of default, the borrower will be responsible for the full amount of the loan principal, interest, and collection agency fees.
Application Period

Applications will be accepted from qualified Florida small businesses under this program through October 12, 2018, for Red Tide and November 5, 2018, for Lake Okeechobee Discharge/Algae Blooms contingent on availability of funds.

Get Started
  1. Review eligibility requirements and loan process.
  2. Download, complete and sign the application form.
  3. Gather required support documentation.
  4. Contact and submit completed and signed application and support documentation to your local Florida Small Business Development Center (SBDC). You can locate your local SBDC at
Contact Information

For questions regarding the Emergency Bridge Loan Program, please contact the Florida Small Business Development Center (SBDC) Network Headquarters. Email:  Phone: (850) 898-3479.

About the Emergency Bridge Loan Program
The Florida Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan Program was first activated following Hurricane Andrew. It has been activated 22 additional times following disasters and has helped more than 3,550 small businesses statewide to receive more than $97.9 million in assistance.