USF helps after Irma with small business loans

- Hurricane Irma devastated the Keys, but the ripple effect reached all the way to Tampa's Carbon Marine. The small business in Drew Park makes fishing and boating accessories and their sales were hammered.

"I never dreamed of the backlash, how my customers were going to be affected," said the company's owner, Joe Welbourn. "And all of a sudden it hit me like a ton of rocks. It's not coming back until the folks critical to our market rebound."

Fortunately, he knew about the Florida Small Business Development Center at USF, headquartered in Channelside.

"Immediately after the hurricane when funds were appropriated we were already in place to help these small businesses receive financial assistance," says Eileen Rodriguez, SBDC's executive director.

Welbourn got one of their loans.

"There's a program, zero-percent interest up to $50,000. It’s called a Bridge Loan. Then you pay it back once the market rebounds," says Welbourn.

For more information, visit www.floridadisasterloan.org.

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