- Small Business Development/RLF
Over the last few years, many Americans have moved to Florida, making it one of the top destinations for domestic migration. In 2021 alone, more than 220,000 people moved to the Sunshine State.
Coupled with the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, this mass migration put a serious strain on the state’s resources, minimizing its lending power to small, minority-owned businesses and other entrepreneurs. However, with assistance from the Economic Development Administration (EDA), the South Florida Regional Planning Council (SFRPC) is helping many such businesses develop and grow.
Since 1974, SFRPC has worked to provide state and local policymakers with the information they need to build a better future for South Floridians. Today, it manages and operates multiple revolving loan programs, including the CARES Revolving Loan Fund (RLF). Capitalized with $5.9 million in EDA CARES Act funding, the program is designed to meet the needs of local businesses from Palm Beach to the Florida Keys who were adversely impacted by the pandemic and were unable to obtain conventional funding.
Since its inception, the CARES RLF has supported more than 30 minority-owned businesses in South Florida, including tax preparers, marketing firms, supermarkets, and laundry cleaning facilities.
“We greatly appreciated the EDA funding,” said Jeffrey Tart, SFRPC’s Senior Loan Officer for the RLF Programs. “It has had a tremendous, positive impact in our region. It has been well received by minority businesses who would not have otherwise been able to overcome the economic challenges caused by the pandemic.”
One such recipient was the Wiggins Agency, a minority-owned LLC. A marketing and branding company, it provides traditional advertising and media services, which proved essential following development of the coronavirus vaccine. The company launched a vaccination campaign in South Florida, tailored for people of color and those of Haitian and Caribbean descent.
Another recipient was The Bang Shack, a restaurant offering a variety of Cajun dishes with their own style of dips, unique in both ingredients and in flavor. The company began operations at a farmers market in 2017, where they found great success. When the pandemic struck in 2020, the farmers market was forced to close, but owner Jason Hadley refused to give up on his growing business. He acquired SFRPC funding, which allowed him to secure a new location for his restaurant and provided for the rehiring of his employees.
Tart and his team continue their daily outreach efforts to new businesses in the region. They have recently completed a series of video testimonials from many of their borrowers, who have offered their insights into SFRPC’s capital assistance program.
“With our traditional RLF loan program we have always provided a needed lifeline to small business in need of funding to operate and hire employees. When EDA provided $5.9 million in coronavirus relief, we knew that we would be embarking down a road to help change lives and provide opportunity in a time of great need.”
For more information, please visit EDA’s RLF page.