Red tide assistance available for businesses

Loans through the U.S. Small Business Administration and the Florida Small Business Development Center (SBDC) Network are available to businesses whose customers are staying away because of red tide.

The red tide bloom that continues to persist in the Gulf of Mexico began in September 2017 in Southwest Florida, reaching Anna Maria Island on Aug. 3. Since then, dead fish and the respiratory irritation caused when the algae’s neurotoxin is dispersed in the air have kept the Island’s usual crowds away from restaurants and retail stores.

SBA loan office opens Sept. 7 in Holmes Beach

The Small Business Administration Disaster Loan Outreach Center opens Friday, Sept. 7 at 11 a.m. to assist such businesses affected by red tide.

The center is at the Island Branch Library, 5701 Marina Drive in Holmes Beach. After Sept. 7, hours are Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. No appointments are necessary.

SBA representatives will provide information about disaster loans and assist business owners in completing loan assistance applications. Manatee County’s economic development team and local Chamber of Commerce partners also will provide information and resources to assist businesses in documenting financial losses.

Florida Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan Program

The Florida Small Business Development Center (SBDC) Network’s Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan Program is available to small business owners in designated disaster areas, including Manatee County, who experienced physical or economic damage because of red tide.

Small business owners can qualify for between $1,000 and $50,000 in interest-free loans, payable after 180 days. If paid late, an 18 percent interest rate applies.

The program is not designed to be the primary source of assistance to affected small businesses; program eligibility is linked to the pursuit of other monies, such as the proceeds of insurance claims or other loans, other financial assistance the borrower receives after receipt of the loan or proceeds from the revived business.

Applications will be accepted from for-profit, privately-held small businesses that have maintained an office in Florida since at least Aug. 13, 2018, employ between two and 100 employees and have suffered physical damage and/or economic injury because of red tide.

Borrowers will be required to sign agreements that proceeds of the loans will be used only for maintaining or restarting the businesses 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.

Applications will be accepted through Oct. 12, contingent on availability of funds.

For more information, visit SBA or call 800-659-2955.

For more information, visit The Sun’s Red Tide Resources.

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