Getting a loan for your small business can put you in a better position to succeed, but small business loans in Florida may be harder to find. Most businesses in the sunshine state — particularly companies in construction, tourism, and real estate industries — took a hit during the economic downturn.
Fortunately, though, the state’s economy is on the upswing. In the third quarter of 2018, Florida’s economy grew at an annual rate of 3.8%, up from 2.2% in 2017, according to a 2019 profile from the Small Business Administration (SBA) Office of Advocacy. Today, there are 2.5 million small businesses in Florida, and together they employ over 40% of all Florida employees.
If you’re one of these 2.5 million small businesses, securing funding through an online lender may prove easiest, but there are still a handful of good options for local financing. Here are seven of the best Florida small business loans:
1. Florida Credit Union
The Florida Credit Union (FCU) offers a variety of financing options for small business owners, including equipment and machinery loans, as well as car, truck, and van loans with customized repayment plans. You can also apply for an SBA 504 loan through the FCU; if you’re approved, you can use the funds for any number of growth projects, like buying real estate, hiring employees, or increasing marketing efforts. The FCU has branches in Gainesville, Ocala, Lake City, Starke, and DeLand.
2. BFS Capital
One of the top options for business loans in Florida is BFS Capital. Headquartered in South Florida, BFS Capital gives term loans and merchant cash advances to small businesses across the state. If you qualify for a small business loan, you can borrow anywhere from $5,000 to $500,000 for up to 18 months — and put the funds toward any business-related expense or project. BFS caters to businesses in several different industries, including retail, transportation, manufacturing, hospitality, restaurants, and spas.
3. Enterprise Florida State Small Business Credit Initiative
Enterprise Florida, a public-private partnership that offers loan participation and guarantee programs for small business owners, was designed to help create more jobs and diversify the economy.
One of their programs, the State Small Business Credit Initiative, aims to make financing more accessible for Florida small business owners by offering participating loans. That means they don’t lend money directly; rather, the SSBCI gives capital to various Florida commercial lenders, who then offer loans to small businesses that have fewer than 500 employees.
4. Enterprise Florida Microfinance Guarantee Program
The Microfinance Guarantee Program, run through Enterprise Florida, provides loan guarantees to small businesses that receive funding from certain Florida lenders. To qualify for a guarantee, you need to operate a business in Florida that employs 25 or fewer people and has had an annual gross revenue of $1.5 million or less a year for the last two years. Make sure you discuss your financing needs with local lenders before you apply for the program.
5. LiftFund in Florida
LiftFund is a non-profit organization that provides financing solutions to business owners who’ve struggled to get capital from banks and other traditional financial institutions. LiftFund offers small business loans and microloans to both startups and established businesses in Miami, Jacksonville, Tampa, and Orlando. Loan amounts range from $500 to up to $1 million, and can go toward vehicle purchases, equipment, inventory, lease improvements, real estate, working capital, and more.
6. Black Business Loan Program
If you’re a minority business owner in Florida, you may be qualified for the Black Business Loan Program. Run through the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, the program gives loans and loan guarantees to black business owners who’ve struggled to get financing from larger lending institutions. You can get loans of $2,500 to $75,000 for working capital, cash flow, inventory, and equipment.
If you apply through FAMU Federal Credit Union, your business must be located in Florida and be at least 51% black-owned. If, however, you apply through the Miami Bayside Foundation, your business needs to be a for-profit corporation domiciled in Miami-Dade county, and must be at least 51% black-owned.
7. Opportunity Fund
Opportunity Fund is a company that gives loans to small business owners who don’t have access to traditional financing. The organization, which is backed by investors like Bank of America and Goldman Sachs, serves a handful of different states, including Florida.
The loan amounts range from $30,000 to $250,000, with interest rates starting at 7.9% and term lengths of up to five years. You don’t need business credit to qualify, but your business needs to be open for at least one year prior to applying.
There aren’t many Florida-specific small business grants. However, if you’re a tourism-based business in Florida, you may qualify for a grant from Visit Florida. Their Targeted Marketing Assistance Program is a matching grant program that awards $5,000 to recipients for marketing purposes. To receive the grant, you need to be accepted into TMAP, be a partner of Visit Florida, and match the funds you receive dollar for dollar. You also have to use the money on marketing campaigns and materials that promote the advantages of visiting Florida.
If you have trouble finding small business loans in Florida, trying looking beyond local programs to nationwide lending institutions. Most alternative lending platforms are designed to help small business owners get easier access to the financing they need. Plus, terms are usually more flexible, so you can figure out what works best for your operation without getting locked into a tough situation.
With a Funding Circle term loan, you can borrow anywhere from $25,000 to $500,000 for up to five years, with interest rates starting at 4.99%. Business owners in Florida and beyond have used Funding Circle loans to purchase expensive equipment, double their inventory, and expand to new locations.
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