Small businesses impacted by naturally occurring red tide now have until Dec. 16 to apply for the Florida Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan.

The bridge loan program was activated by Gov. Rick Scott. It being  administered by the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) in partnership with the Florida SBDC Network and Florida First Capital Finance Corp. This is a short-term, interest-free loan program designed to help small businesses bridge the gap until long-term recovery resources, such as insurance claims or federal assistance, are available.

Small businesses with two to 100 employees may apply for loans up to $50,000 for 180-day terms. While the bridge loan is a source of expedient funds, it is not designed to be the primary source of assistance for affected small businesses.

As part of the eligibility, businesses must indicate pursuit of other sources. These might include insurance claims and federal disaster assistance. To be eligible, a business must have been established prior to Aug. 13. Businesses must be located in one of the 14 designated disaster counties, and demonstrate economic injury or physical damage as a result of red tide.

Businesses in affected counties are encouraged to complete a Business Damage Assessment Survey at Response to the damage assessment is not an application for assistance. Businesses that fill out the survey and are interested in the bridge loan program must fill out a bridge loan application, as well.

For more information,