FloridaWest: Fill out damage assessment survey to help local economy

Last week, Governor Ron DeSantis announced the activation of the Business Damage Assessment survey to assess the impact of COVID-19 on Florida’s local business operations. The survey, managed by the DEO, evaluates businesses affected by COVID-19 and the impacts the virus has had on the local economy. The Business Damage Assessment Survey can be taken online at FloridaDisaster.biz.

Inweekly spoke with FloridaWest CEO Scott Luth about the importance of the survey for our local economy.

“The survey helps the state get a handle on the number of businesses that are having an impact,” Luth said. “Obviously that’s changing daily, but we’re trying to gather that information to allow the different state agencies to make better decisions on how to support companies. And it’s also used to request additional assistance from the federal government for the state and our region.”

He continue, “For that reason, we’re encouraging companies to get online, register. When they register, then they also are put on the mailing list to get direct emails from DEO and others about some of the different programs that will probably come out over the coming weeks.”

Without the surveys, our county might get overlooked when the state plans its recovery strategy, according to Luth.

“If the state doesn’t have surveys from our area, they may just assume everything’s great and fine,” he told Inweekly. “That’s why they’re encouraging communities and businesses to push this out so they have a better feel for who’s being impacted the most and to what level they’re being impacted.”

Bridge Loans

Gov. Ron DeSantis announced on Monday that Florida would begin a $50 million bridge-loan program for businesses hurt by the novel coronavirus and that he has directed the state’s revenue department to extend deadlines for businesses to pay corporate income taxes.

Appearing at the state Emergency Operations Center in Tallahassee, DeSantis said the $50 million in state loans would supplement any loans made available by the U.S. Small Business Administration and will help to “keep people afloat.” People can apply for the loans, administered by the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, beginning today. The interest-free loans can be up to $50,000. Apply here.

“We think that this is obviously something that is affecting the economy. We hope this is not something that affects the economy infinitum. That it’s relatively short,” DeSantis said. “The problem is if you’re in some of these industries really getting hit, you have a cash flow issue. Particularly if you have tight margins, this is a way to kind of keep people afloat.”

Luth told Inweekly, “The application period runs through May 8. The loans are intended to bridge you to maybe help with payroll, to help with expenses, until you either do your loss of business insurance claim or apply for the next loan program, which is a larger loan program through the USBDC program, which is your injury disaster commercial loan, which is a much longer loan like we’re used to with the hurricanes.”

He added, “We’re working to put those links up on our website. We’ll be meeting with the Chamber. I’m sure they’ll post the links also. Then we’ll be feeding this information to the EOC to make sure that the businesses have the links for both of those programs.”