Small businesses in the Tampa Bay area are among the first recipients of loans for Ian’s recovery

Governor Ron DeSantis said an initial pool of money is being made available to small business owners whose businesses suffered physical damage or lost money from Hurricane Ian.

“I activated … the Florida Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan Program, we made available an initial trunk of $50 million,” DeSantis said at a news conference in Port Charlotte on Monday. “We’ve set aside $10 (million) for agriculture – businesses, small family farms, not mega-corps…that were impacted by Hurricane Ian.”

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Of the first 55 recipients of the zero-rate, one-year loans, DeSantis said 34 small businesses were in Charlotte, DeSoto, Collier, Sarasota, Hardee and Lee counties. Businesses range from restaurants to auto repair shops.

In total, the state provided $2.5 million in the first round of loans.

Those who apply are eligible for personal loans of up to $50,000, provided they own at least 51% of their business and have repaid previous emergency bridging loans.

Business owners can apply for the Emergency Bridge Loans, which must be repaid to the State of Florida, here.

According to a press release from the governor’s office, the Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan Program aims to bridge the gap between when a disaster affects a business and when a business can access recovery financing at long term.

Businesses affected by Hurricane Ian in counties such as Charlotte, Collier, DeSoto, Hardee, Highlands, Hillsborough, Lee, Manatee, Orange, Osceola, Pinellas, Polk and Sarasota can apply.

Small businesses in the most affected counties – Charlotte, Collier, DeSoto, Hardee, Lee and Sarasota – will be escalated and prioritized as they are received.

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