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Florida Resources for Business and Economic Relief

May 6, 2020 • Covid-19 Resources • Written by Amy Lee

This article was updated on June 25, 2020.

 

What Is Florida Doing To Help?

The Florida government was reluctant to enact strict measures to combat COVID-19 from the outset. It initially placed more emphasis on economic and business health over the health of the general public, until enacting shelter-in-place orders on April 3. However, it was not long before Florida entered Phase One of its reopening plan on May 18th.

Recent Government Action

Government officials who have had reason to speak out include former governor and junior state senator Rick Scott. Senator Scott proposed mobile testing centers in every county, and on March 24, he provided an update on his website, listing 20 counties that now have drive-thru COVID-19 testing.

On April 20, Governor DeSantis started a “Re-Open Florida Task Force,” made up of a committee of 22 elected officials and corporate executives, including the president of Walt Disney World Resort, Josh D’Amaro, and the CEO of Universal Orlando Resorts, John Sprouls. The task force is expected to come up with a plan of how Florida’s businesses should move forward, and intended to give this plan to the governor on April 24. 

Now, the Re-Open Florida Task Force has launched an extensive report, detailing the four phases of re-opening businesses. To understand how your business can prepare for re-opening, start on page 12 of the report.

Resources for Local Small Businesses

In addition to national assistance, there are financial assistance options specifically for businesses in Florida. Here are some ways to get financing for your local business:

  • State Small Business Credit Initiative – The SSBCI offers loans ranging from $250,000 to $5,000,000, with negotiable interest rates and fees. You can check your eligibility and apply on Enterprise Florida’s website.
  • Rebuild Florida Business Loan Fund – Launched before COVID-19, this fund helps businesses with long-term economic recovery when disasters affect financing, offering eligible local businesses up to $500,000. You can find the application through the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity.
  • Facebook Grants – Facebook is offering $100 million in grants and ad credits for local small businesses across the country, and at least $150,000 of it will be going to local businesses in Miami-Dade County. To learn more and apply, visit the application guide.
  • Employee compensation – The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity is offering what they call “short-time compensation and temporary layoff,” which provides partial wage replacement for local business employees. Directions to apply are on the DEO website.

You can also create an account and take the Business Damage Assessment Survey online, where you will be asked questions about how COVID-19 has affected your business so that relief programs will continue to be developed to meet your needs.

 

What Types of Programs Are Being Offered By The Federal Government?

Besides the IRS’s stimulus relief check, the federal government has other financial assistance programs made to help in times like these, including ones just for small businesses. Here are some federal options for local business financing:

  • SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loans – Any small business can apply for SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loans through the US Small Business Administration website, and receive up to $2 million with an advance of up to $10,000.
  • SBA Debt Relief – The US Small Business Administration is offering to pay the principal, interest, and fees of current loans for six months. Details are available on the SBA Debt Relief tab.
  • Paycheck Protections Program – Also through the US Small Business Administration, this loan was created to prevent laying off small businesses employees. The loans will be forgiven if all employees are kept on the payroll for eight weeks. To find out more, visit their Paycheck Protection Program Loan Info section.

These have been provided through the original CARES Act and the secondary relief fund.

 

How Has COVID-19 Affected Florida?

As the coronavirus pandemic has swept across the world, “non-essential” businesses were forced to shut their doors and countries closed their borders. Despite the country enforcing lockdowns and social distancing, each state is handling the coronavirus outbreak differently.

When the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) warned that older adults have a higher risk of being affected by the coronavirus (COVID-19) than younger people, this was a major concern for Floridians. It’s no secret that Florida is loved by retirees, and in 2019, it became the state with the largest population of older adults, ages 65 and above, according to US News.

Florida is also a top destination for young adults, like college students vacationing for spring break. These two groups—an older local population and a lot of young visitors—is an unfortunate combination and a breeding ground for COVID-19. 

Despite the disease being deadly to the elderly and easily spread by young jet-setters, Governor DeSantis decided to hold off on taking action—there was an $86 billion tourism industry at stake.

Reopening Businesses in Florida

Despite the statewide lockdown going into effect on April 3, just two weeks later, on April 17, Governor DeSantis gave the okay for beaches, parks, and churches to reopen. 

Despite the statewide lockdown going into effect on April 3, just two weeks later, on April 17, Governor DeSantis gave the okay for beaches, parks, and churches to reopen. 

By May 18th, the state had opened the following businesses:

  • Restaurants (at 50% capacity)
  • Retail (at 50% capacity)
  • Gyms and fitness centers (at 50% capacity)
  • Barber shops and salons

On June 5th, all of Florida with the exception of Miami-Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach counties entered Phase Two of the state’s plan. This means that:

  • Gatherings of up to 50 are permitted with social distancing in place
  • Bars can open at 50% capacity
  • Restaurants and gyms can begin to operate at 75% capacity

However, by mid-June, Florida’s case numbers were rising, with more than twice as many new cases per day than before reopening, along with a rise in hospitalizations. Some municipalities will stop progressing through phased reopening. 

As businesses reopen, they must adhere to the following guidelines: 
  • Allow telework when possible
  • Screen employees working in-person for COVID-19 symptoms
  • Maintain social distancing
  • Regularly sanitize
  • Encourage the use of face masks, and provide masks upon request

Note: When looking at reopening rules and guidelines, be sure to research your specific county’s regulations. These may supersede state guidelines.

 

Using The Neighborhood Hub to Support Your Local Business

An immediate way to help keep your small business afloat is to reach out to your community using Nextdoor, reminding them that you’re still in business. As the neighborhood hub, Nextdoor has tools made especially for local businesses and updated offerings in response to the crisis. By creating a Business Page and getting recommendations from people who know your work and want to support you, you’ll be discoverable by a simple search, bringing your community together while staying (safely) apart.

 

Staying Optimistic During COVID-19

It can be hard to stay optimistic during a global pandemic, especially if your small business is struggling to cope with the shutdowns. Although nothing compares to life going back to normal, it’s important to remember that there are options for assistance, especially if you look locally. The more small businesses communicate with their local government and surrounding communities, the more opportunities there are for support.

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Additional sources:

US News. States With the Largest Increases in Their Older Population. https://www.usnews.com/news/best-states/slideshows/states-with-the-largest-increases-in-their-older-population

Senator Rick Scott. Sen. Rick Scott Provides Updates on Florida’s Mobile Testing Sites. https://www.rickscott.senate.gov/sen-rick-scott-provides-updates-floridas-mobile-testing-sites

Enterprise Florida. State Small Business Credit Initiative. https://www.enterpriseflorida.com/small-business/state-small-business-credit-initiative-ssbci/

Florida Department of Economic Opportunity. Business Recovery. http://www.floridajobs.org/rebuildflorida/businessrecovery

Facebook. Small Business Grants Guide. https://www.facebook.com/business/boost/grants/application-guide

Florida Department of Economic Opportunity. For Employers. http://www.floridajobs.org/Reemployment-Assistance-Service-Center/reemployment-assistance/employers

Florida Disaster. Business Damage Assessment Survey. https://floridadisaster.biz/BusinessDamageAssessments

US Small Business Administration. Coronavirus (COVID-19). https://www.sba.gov/disaster-assistance/coronavirus-covid-19#section-header-3

US Small Business Administration. SBA Debt Relief. https://www.sba.gov/funding-programs/loans/coronavirus-relief-options/sba-debt-relief

US Small Business Administration. Paycheck Protection Program Loan. https://www.sba.gov/funding-programs/loans/coronavirus-relief-options/paycheck-protection-program

ABC News. Florida continues to see new coronavirus cases rise in high numbers. https://abcnews.go.com/US/miami-pauses-reopening-floridas-coronavirus-cases-rise/story?id=71254648

 


If you are a local business, claim your free Business Page to get started on Nextdoor. Resources on how to use Nextdoor to stay connected with your local customers during coronavirus, pertinent news affecting businesses, and more, are available in our Small Business Guide for Coronavirus Relief.

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