State offering interest-free loans to businesses

Antwan Towner, who works as a magician, says several of his events were canceled due to the coronavirus. He was working from the Nicahabana Cigar bar in the Ybor City neighborhood in Tampa on March 16.
OCTAVIO JONES/TAMPA BAY TIMES/TNS

BY CHRISTINE SEXTON
NEWS SERVICE OF FLORIDA

TALLAHASSEE – Gov. Ron DeSantis announced on Monday that Florida will 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 will 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 Tuesday. The interest-free loans can be up to $50,000.

“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.’’

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