Located in Oviedo, Little Explorer Academy is a child care center for children ages 0-5 that specializes in early childhood STEM education. In September 2017, Little Explorer Academy sustained physical damage to their facility. Marnie Forestieri, CEO of the company, turned to the Florida SBDC at the University of Central Florida (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?
Our playgrounds were damaged. Turf, landscaping, and structures were all affected and left either unusable or dangerous.
How helpful was the Emergency Bridge Loan?
The Bridge Loan was absolutely handy. Structures are very expensive. Insurance doesn’t cover it. After deductibles, it wasn’t worth making the claim. This loan will help us rebuild our playgrounds. The kids are going to be very, very happy.
How helpful was the Florida SBDC at UCF?
They were absolutely amazing. I came in on a Thursday afternoon and two business days later I had the money from the loan. It was absolutely great service. From the beginning to the end, a great experience.
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.