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Crist activates bridge loan program at Sink's suggestion

Gov. Charlie Crist activated the state's emergency bridge loan program Monday, allowing small businesses to tap up to $25,000 in short-term emergency funds to stay afloat in the midst of the oil disaster. Crist set aside $5 million for the program which will provide cash to companies until they can secure other resources, including profits from a revived business, payment of claims, or longer-term loans.

The idea is one first touted by Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink on May 3, when she equated the disaster to a Category 5 hurricane and also called for the federal government to expedite disaster loans and encourage the Department of Environmental Protection to set up an oil spill task force. Download Sink 050310

"The truth of the matter is that BP ought to be doing it, but people are desparate,'' Sink told the Herald/Times Monday. "If the state should have some losses from this bridge loan program, I'm going to file a claim against BP. That's why I'm glad that they finally activated it.''

The short-term loans can by obtained by small businesses in the designated counties of Escambia, Santa Rosa, Okaloosa, Walton, Bay, Gulf, Franklin, Wakulla, Jefferson, Taylor, Dixie, Levy, Citrus, Hernando, Pasco, Pinellas, Hillsborough, Manatee, Sarasota, Charlotte, Lee, Collier, Monroe, Dade, Broward and Palm Beach.

 “Though BP may be the responsible party, we will continue to help ourselves by being proactive in supporting Florida businesses and families,” Crist said in a statement. “Providing a much-needed source of financial relief to our businesses will help secure Florida’s future economy.” 

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