Financial / Incentives
One key to successful business start-up and expansion is the ability to obtain and secure appropriate financing. Raising capital is the most basic of all business activities. Raising capital is not easy, and it can be a complex process. A startup or early-stage company has little chance of getting significant bank loan. Despite the late night commercials touting free government money, it is hard to find any government entities handing out cash. Neither the U.S. Small Business Administration nor most other federal and state agencies offer grants or “free money” for starting or developing a business. What grant money is available is primarily for existing businesses to carry out certain specific tasks for government programs.
In this section we have provided a few resources at a local level for business owners looking for corporate relocation incentives, financial incentives, impact fee deferral, and many more benefits.
CAPE CORAL IMPACT FEE DEFERRAL PROGRAM
The City defers payment of certain impact fees for new commercial or industrial building projects. Impact fees are charged to property owners to defray the costs for public infrastructure. Only Road and Utility Capital Expansion Impact Fees are eligible. The maximum deferral period, including any supplemental deferrals, is 10 years. The length of the deferral is based on the number of jobs created by the new or existing business and whether those jobs employ Cape Coral residents. The Shell Building Impact Fee Deferral is also available to property owners of shell buildings, which are usually built as speculation. Shell building impact fees may be deferred for up to 36 months or until the issuance of permits for interior completion, whichever is earlier.
LEE COUNTY PRIVATE CAPITAL RESOURCES
Gulf Coast Venture Forum
The Southwest Florida based Gulf Coast Venture Forum is a non-profit corporation formed by a group of business leaders, entrepreneurs, academicians, economic development officials and professionals. The Forum provides a place for the sharing and exchange of business and technical experience. Traditionally, local wealth has invested outside the local community while local businesses have sought financing from sources outside the local community. To bridge this gap, the Forum presents emerging, promising companies to the local angel and venture capital community. Each presenting company is pre-screened and selected by a Selection Committee.
Here are a few resources from a state level to aid with business owners with financial incentives for corporate relocation, financial assistance, and many other incentives programs.
FLORIDA EXPORT FINANCE ASSISTANCE
The Florida Export Finance Corporation offers information, technical and consulting assistance to small and medium-sized Florida exporters who have been turned down by at least one potential lender. Business must have a specific and verified order from a foreign buyer and the loan must be made to support that order. Financial assistance is available to support pre-export working capital and/or post-export receivable financing. Programs include state-supported direct loans and guarantees, as well as, packaging services that provide access to EXIMBank and SBA export finance and working capital guaranty programs. The maximum guarantee amount is 90% of the loan or $500,000, whichever is the lowest. The maximum direct loan amount is 90% of the contract value or $50,000, whichever is the lowest. Guarantees may be used to secure stand-by letters of credit from financial institutions
FLORIDA FINANCE NETWORK
The Florida Finance Network (FFN) delivers economic development financing assistance from state and federal programs to help Florida small-and medium-sized businesses grow. This non-profit consortium of organizations exists to ensure that small companies have access to affordable capital they need to help them succeed.
- Listed below are members of the Florida Finance Network:
FLORIDA RECYCLING LOAN PROGRAM (FRLP)
The Florida Recycling Loan Program, administered by Florida First Capital Finance Corporation (FFCFC) for the Department of Environmental Protection, provides below market financing for companies that manufacture products from recycled materials or convert recyclable materials into materials for use in manufacturing. The program offers funding for the purchase of machinery and equipment at a fixed interest rate as low as 2% below the Prime Lending Rate for the life of the loan (up to 10 years). The potential borrower is required to have an equity injection of 10% of the total amount of the loan.
FLORIDA VENTURE FORUM
Developed to help Florida entrepreneurs and established businesses seeking moderate to high-risk financing to effectively target their funding search contacts. In addition, a Forum Directory supports Florida deal referral and syndication on a statewide, national and international level. Directory listings include (1) sources of moderate to high-risk debt and equity capital for Florida business ventures, and (2) firms and individuals with significant access to such sources.
We have also included Federal financial incentives for to aid in corporate relocation or current business owners of the Fort Myers community with financial loans, a bond-guaranty program, and other where applicable.
U. S. SMALL BUSINESS ADMINISTRATION (SBA) PROGRAMS
SBA 7(a) Loans (up to $2 million) A loan-guaranty program for purchase of land or buildings, new construction, as well as, expansion or conversion of existing facilities; acquire equipment, machinery, furniture, fixtures, supplies, or materials; long-term working capital including the payment of accounts payable and/or for the purchase of inventory; refinance existing business indebtedness which is not already structured with reasonable terms and conditions; short-term working capital needs including: seasonal financing, contract performance, construction financing, export production, and for financing against existing inventory and receivable under special conditions; or to purchase an existing business. No minimum loan amount and a maximum of $2 million with a maximum loan guarantee of $1.5 million. Real estate may be financed for up to 25 years, maximum repayment for fixed assets is the economic life of the asset, but in no case longer than 25 years, while the maximum term for working capital loans is seven years. For more information contact: Florida First Capital Finance Corporation or contact a commercial bank of your choice.
SBA 504 Loans
A loan-guaranty program to provide growing for-profit businesses with long term, fixed rate financing. To qualify businesses with less than $7.5 million in net worth and less than $2.5 million in after-tax profits. Proceeds must be used for fixed asset projects such as: purchasing land and improvements, including existing buildings, grading, street improvements, utilities, parking lots and landscaping; construction of new facilities, or modernizing, renovating or converting existing facilities; or purchasing long-term machinery and equipment. The program cannot be used for working capital or inventory, consolidating or repaying debt, or refinancing. Typically a bank will loan 50% of the project’s cost, a Certified Development Company (as referenced for contact) provides SBA-guaranteed funds for 40% of the total cost up to $4 million for small manufacturers (SBA limit is $2 million or less for businesses that are not small manufacturers, but meet other job creation, community development of public policy goals) and the remaining 10% comes from the owner’s down payment. Repayment is over 20 years for real estate, 10 years for equipment. Interest rates are pegged to an increment above the current market rate for five-year and 10-year U.S. Treasury issues.
SBA Express Loans (up to $350,000)
A loan-guaranty program for fixed assets (limited), working capital or revolving credit. No minimum loan amount and a maximum of $350,000*. The loan maturity is generally 5 to 10 years, but terms up to 25 years are allowed for fixed asset loans. Lenders use their own forms, so contact a commercial bank of your choice.
*SBA provides a maximum guarantee of 50%
SBA Patriot Express Pilot Loan Initiative (up to $500,000)
The U.S. Small Business Administration Patriot Express Pilot Loan is an initiative for veterans and members of the military community wanting to establish or expand small businesses. The loan is offered by SBA’s network of participating lenders nationwide and features a fast turnaround time for loan approvals. Loans are available up to $500,000 and qualify for SBA’s maximum guaranty of up to 85 percent for loans of $150,000 or less, and up to 75 percent for loans over $150,000 up to $500,000. For loans above $350,000, lenders are required to take all available collateral. The local SBA district office will have a listing of Patriot Express lenders in our area.
SBA Surety Bond Guarantee
A bond-guaranty program for contracts up to $2 million, covering bid, performance and payment bonds for small and emerging contractors who cannot obtain surety bonds through the regular commercial channels. Businesses in the construction and service industries can meet SBA’s size eligibility standards if their average annual receipts for the last three fiscal years do not exceed $6 million.
FEDERAL GOVERNMENT GRANT PROGRAMS
U. S. SMALL BUSINESS ADMINISTRATION (SBA) PROGRAMS
Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Grants The SBIR program is a highly competitive federal program that provides research and development contracts, in part based on the market potential of the research. The competitive SBIR program is the largest source of early-stage research and development funding for small high-tech companies. To qualify, small businesses must be for-profit, have no more than 500 employees and be working on research and development that will serve both the needs of the federal government as well as commercial markets. Funding for the SBIR program is divided into three phases: Phase I, companies can receive up to $100,000 for a six-month feasibility study to test the scientific and technical aspects of their concept. If Phase I is successful, companies move on and may be awarded a Phase II contract for as much as $750,000, and take up to two years to further develop the idea. The small business retains the intellectual property rights for the project. Phase III is for the commercialization of the results of Phase II. Private money or non-SBIR government funding must be used for this phase. The SBIR funding agencies are NASA, the National Science Foundation, Environmental Protection Agency and the departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Defense, Education, Energy, Health and Human Services and Transportation.
Following are websites that offer federal grant program assistance linking to other information sources:
Allows you to search the funding criteria of over 4,000 sources for business loans, venture capital, equipment leasing, and commercial real estate financing. You can search by type of funding (e.g., working capital or equipment finance), or you can limit your search to funding sources for businesses already in existence for four months, for businesses just starting up, or for purchase of a business or franchise.
Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance
This website includes a searchable database of all federal programs for private profit organizations as well as state and local governments, nonprofit organizations, specialized groups and individuals.
The electronic storefront for Federal grants.
Corporate Relocation process, Business or Financial Incentives, and Site Selection are just a few categories Fort Myers Regional Partnership can assist your business with. For more information about any of the topics discussed above, contact the Fort Myers Regional Partnership, Lee County's Economic Development Office, at 800.493.4396.