ORLANDO – In the past, Florida’s state government has responded to disasters by making financing available for residents of the region that was impacted. Those disasters have included hurricanes, tornados, and heavy flooding caused by tropical storms.
This week, the U.S. Small Business Administration announced it will open a Business Recovery Center in Orlando, after the office of Gov. Rick Scott requested that the federal government issue a disaster declaration following the massacre at the Pulse nightclub on June 12.
Scott had asked the SBA to make the disaster declaration for Orange, Brevard, Lake, Osceola, Polk, Seminole and Volusia counties. When the federal agency agreed, it signaled that low interest Economic Injury Disaster Loans would be made available for businesses impacted by the attack, when a lone gunman killed 49 people and injured 53 others.
The gunman, Omar Mateen, was later killed by Orlando police after a three hour hostage standoff.
Businesses interested in learning more about SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loans can visit https://goo.gl/933umu or apply online at disasterloan.sba.gov/ela/.
On June 17, Scott’s office also activated Florida’s Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan program, which provides emergency short-term, interest-free loans to small businesses affected by the terror attack at Pulse.
The SBA will open the Business Recovery Center on Tuesday, June 28 at the Beardall Senior Center, and the city is encouraging local businesses to take advantage of this program.
“Businesses with economic losses resulting from the recent attack should seriously consider visiting the Center and applying for an SBA disaster loan,” Wilfredo Gonzalez, SBA’s North Florida district director, said in a news release.
Frank Skaggs, director of SBA Field Operations Center East, also issued a statement noting that “SBA’s customer service representatives will be available at the Center to provide program information and assistance in completing disaster loan applications.”
The deadline to return economic injury applications is March 23, 2017.
In the two weeks since the attacks at Pulse, the region has seen a huge outpouring of support for the victims and their families. Numerous vigils have been held, and have attracted thousands of participants, and the city of Orlando announced it would create a permanent memorial in honor of the victims.
As part of that, the city entered a partnership with the Orange County Regional History Center to collect and preserve letters, notes, signs and other non-perishable tribute items that have been left at several temporary memorial sites created across the city at those vigils.
The city will start moving tribute items to the temporary memorial site at the Seneff Arts Plaza at the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts this evening.
The city also created a OneOrlando Fund that people can donate to, which will be used to help the Pulse victims. Checks may be made payable to OneOrlando Fund and sent to OneOrlando, P.O. Box 4990, Orlando, FL 32802-4990.
To learn more about the disaster loan program, call the SBA’s Customer Service Center at 800-659-2955 or email email@example.com. Loan applications can be downloaded from www.sba.gov.
Michael Freeman is an Orlando journalist, playwright and author of the book “Bloody Rabbit”. Contact him at Freelineorlando@gmail.com..