–By Cynthia Corzo for FIU News
Nearly a decade after the Florida SBDC at FIU Business (FSBDC) helped her launch her own business, Rosanna Bermejo again turned to the small business development center. This time, she sought help for her business, Med Aesthetics Miami, in recovering from the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The skincare and wellness center was closed for two and a half months during the lockdown. For Bermejo, pivoting in the pandemic meant that virtual consultations with patients became the norm, new products and services were introduced, and in-person treatments were redesigned, much of it thanks to the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) assistance Med Aesthetics Miami received with the FSBDC at FIU’s help.
“The PPP was critical to keeping our doors open – maintaining employees’ salaries, covering utilities – during the lockdown,” said Bermejo. “The SBA loan let us adapt the operations to our new reality.”
The FSBDC is working hand-in-hand with local businesses to help them adjust to a new landscape. Today, consultants are seeing increased demand for guidance on financial management and retaining or recruiting employees as well as marketing, e-commerce, website development and social media activation.
“The goal is not just to help these business weather the pandemic, but also to make them stronger and more resilient moving forward,” said Brian Van Hook, regional director of the FSBDC.
Since the pandemic began, the FSBDC has helped owners in Miami-Dade and Monroe counties navigate disaster assistance programs, getting funds into the business’ hands and developing strategies to weather the crisis.
As of October 14, FSBDC had helped 293 small businesses in Miami-Dade and Monroe counties secure $40.4 million in COVID-19 assistance:
- $18.8 million in SBA Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) Assistance
- $17.1 million in SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL)
- $4.5 million in Florida Small Business Emergency Bridge Loans.
Small businesses in South Florida aren’t strangers to disaster and many have successfully recovered from hurricanes, but the pandemic is uncharted territory.
FSBDC consultants guide applicants to the best resources for them, explain the eligibility criteria, assist with applications, walk them through the review process, determine how to put the funds to their best use, and ensure they have the right plan to be successful when conditions improve.
The FSBDC at FIU, which began offering services in Miami-Dade County in 2014, has helped launch more than 193 businesses and assisted over 3,500 local entrepreneurs and small-business owners in creating or retaining 9,990 jobs; generating $1.33 billion in increased sales; acquiring $123.3 million in government contracts; and accessing $144.5 million in capital via loans and equity investments.
Med Aesthetics Miami was launched in 2010 and two years later, when Bermejo decided to set off on her own with the business, she recalls that it was the team at FSBDC who helped her develop a mission statement, establish a brand image, create a website and get her business off the ground.
“They helped me with the different aspects involved,” she added. “We went through tough times and kept going.”
The recent funds and guidance from FSBDC consultants, Bermejo explained, helped the Med Aesthetics Miami team establish virtual consultations and digital wellness programs, expand the services it offers, and incorporate home delivery of products. She hopes that once the post-COVID-19 future becomes bright, she’ll continue to expand virtually and plans to open a new Med Aesthetics Miami center.
“As a business, we’re operating under a big cloud,” said Bermejo. “My hope is that the economy keeps opening and we can maintain stability.”
Resources available for small businesses: