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STATE OF FLORIDA ALLOCATES $10 MILLION IN SHORT-TERM BUSINESS LOANS; BEACON COUNCIL TO ADMINISTER FUNDS

STATE OF FLORIDA ALLOCATES $10 MILLION IN SHORT-TERM BUSINESS LOANS;
 BEACON COUNCIL TO ADMINISTER FUNDS
 MIAMI, Sept. 5 /PRNewswire/ -- Governor Lawton Chiles yesterday announced a program that will provide $10 million in interest-free, short-term loans to Dade County small businesses that suffered major damage from Hurricane Andrew.
 The $10 million fund is an emergency appropriation from the state's working capital fund. Chiles said the Florida Department of Commerce will disperse loans from the $10 million fund through a contract with The Beacon Council, Dade County's economic agency.
 The Department of Commerce and The Beacon Council began accepting application immediately upon announcement of the program and will continue to accept applications through Dec. 31, 1992.
 Applications for interest-free loans, which will have maximums of $25,000 and 180 days with no payments, are being reviewed by a team of lending officers from Dade County banks and Dade County community leaders. Loan applications are being accepted at The Beacon Council's offices, located in the World Trade Plaza at 80 SW 8th St., Suite 2400, Miami.
 Applications will also be accepted at several to-be-determined sites in Homestead and other areas that were severely affected by Andrew. Applications must be made in person.
 "I am committed to helping South Florida's small businesses get back in operation because they account for nearly 50 percent of the employment base," Chiles said during a press conference at which he announced the loan fund.
 To be eligible for loans, a company must be at least one year old and must have between three and 100 employees. Other criteria will be developed by the loan committee.
 "We're very grateful to Governor Chiles and the state of Florida for moving so quickly and boldly on this loan program. They actually put it together in four days," said Beacon Council President and CEO John Anderson.
 "It's an unprecedented step and a clear signal to the business community that we're working together to get them back on their feet," Anderson said.
 At the press conference, held 11 days after Hurricane Andrew hit South Florida, Beacon Council Chairman Burton Landy said Dade County is "returning to work." He said The Beacon Council estimates that 547,000 people -- or 62 percent of Dade County's 878,000-person work force -- have returned to their jobs.
 Landy added, "The majority of Dade's businesses that are involved in international trade, tourism, manufacturing, finance and health care services have returned to full operations."
 At the press conference, three companies with major Dade County operations announced assistance programs for hurricane victims.
 -- Bacardi Imports said it will provide funding for day-care facilities for at least 200 children.
 -- IBM Corp. said it will donate 1,000 computers to companies that have lost computers. It also announced an "adopt-a-business" program, in which it will permit companies to use office space at IBM facilities.
 -- AT&T Corp. said it will provide free telephone and/or long- distance service to any companies in need of those services.
 -0- 9/5/92 R
 /CONTACT: Steve Albee of The Beacon Council, 305-536-8000/ CO: The Beacon Council ST: Florida IN: SU:


MA-TS -- NYSA011 -- 7306 09/09/92 07:00 EDT
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Date:Sep 9, 1992
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