Located in Tavares, FL Three Volcanoes Farm is a wholesale plant nursery that supplies large quantities of landscape materials to commercial landscapers, currently growing 80 varieties of woody ornamentals, tropicals, liriopes, ornamental grasses, daylilies and groundcovers on 112 acres of nursery in Florida and 60 acres in Costa Rica. In September 2017, Three Volcanoes Farm sustained economic and operational damage due to Hurricane Irma. Karen Owen, owner of the company, turned to the Florida SBDC at the University of Central Florida (FSBDC at UCF) for help securing a Florida Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan. When asked about her experience with the hurricane and the assistance received, she recalled:
What type of damage occurred?
Plant and structural damage, especially to the glass greenhouses. Mores significant however was the business interruption. We’re still not fully operational today, a full month since the hurricane. It’s starting to come back, but we have lost at least a $250,000 inf sales. Our customers are working on clean up, not planting. And our customers are across the Southeast, with one of the biggest hit by Hurricane Harvey in Houston.
How helpful was the Emergency Bridge Loan?
This is going to mean that we won’t have to lay off any of our more than 50 employees. Cash flow has been hit hard and the same for working capital. This gets us past that and back into doing business.
How helpful was the Florida SBDC at UCF?
Working with the FSBDC was great. They were amazing. The process was extremely fast; not more than a week and a half. And really simple. For a government outfit, it was amazing.
About the Florida Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan Program
Administered by the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, in collaboration with the Florida SBDC Network, and supported by Florida First Capital Finance Corporation (FFCFC), the Florida Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan is a short-term, interest-free working capital loan intended to help small businesses “bridge the gap” between the time of a declared disaster and when the business has secured long-term recovery resources, such as insurance proceeds or federal disaster assistance. Governor Rick Scott activated the Florida Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan program on Thursday, September 14 and the first loan was distributed the following Monday. Eligible businesses with two to 100 employees may apply for loans up to $50,000 for 90 or 180-day terms.
As a principal responder in the state’s Emergency Support Function for Business, Industry, and Economic Stabilization, the Florida SBDC Network supports disaster preparedness, response, recovery, and mitigation through its Business Continuation Services. As part of its service offering, Florida SBDC professionally certified consultants and disaster specialists are available to provide confidential, no-cost consulting to help affected businesses prepare disaster loan applications and with other post-disaster challenges.