Companies at every stage have numerous resources available to finance their business, from government funding to regional matching grants to bonds. Both Florida and Orlando are also home to venture capitalists, angel investors as well as commercial banks

Private Capital

Venture Capital: Companies that cannot seek capital from more traditional sources due to size, assets and stage of development may turn to venture capital. 
Angel Investors: An angel investor generally wants less control of your company and a slower return on investment, however the criteria for investment are likely to be similar. Angel investor groups are great sources of private capital and frequently invest angel money into new companies.
Start-up Financing: Funding provided for product development and initial marketing (which means the company has key management, market research and a business plan in place).
Small Business Investment Companies: Licensed by the U.S. Small Business Administration, these privately owned and managed investment firms combine their own capital with funds borrowed from the government and invest as venture capital in small businesses.

Florida First Capital Finance Corporation (FFCFC) has been established to assist companies in the packaging of SBA 504, SBA 7A, Recycling Loans and Energy Loans. The Orlando EP is available to facilitate meetings with FFCFC and the company.
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Government Funding

Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR): three phased federal funding programs specifically for small businesses to perform R&D needed by the participating agencies.

Enterprise Florida SBIR/STTR Phase 0 Grant Program provides grants of up to $3000 to support preparation of a Phase I SBIR or STTR proposal.

SBA 504 Loan Program: U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) approved loan program designed to help owners of small and mid-size businesses purchase commercial real estate. (Note: Over 98% of companies in Florida are viewed as “small businesses” by the SBA.) A major benefit of the SBA 504 Loan is that it finances as much as 90% of a borrower’s “total project cost”, including land, acquisition/construction, equipment, soft costs and closing costs. This, combined with longer amortizations (up to 30 years) and long-term fixed interest rates, allows business owners to enjoy the advantages of owning commercial property with minimal impact on cash flow.

Mercantile Capital Corporation (MCC): Headquartered in Orlando, Mercantile Capital Corporation is the only company nationwide that exclusively focuses on providing SBA 504 loans for business owners to finance commercial property. The Orlando EP is available to facilitate meetings with MCC.

Other Government Grants come from local, state and federal agencies that spend billions of dollars each year for procurement, research and consultant services. Startup companies may wish to partners with a larger company and serve as a subcontractor or pursue small business set aside contract/grant opportunities. 
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Matching Grants

Florida High Tech Corridor Council provides matching grants to companies located in the 23-county Corridor region; grants support industry-university research projects and SBIR/STTR awards in which one of the three participating universities is a partner (University of Florida, University of Central Florida, University of South Florida).
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Industrial Development Revenue Bonds (IDRB): IDRB financing is a federal program, administered by the state at the local level. The bonds can be used for the purpose of financing or refinancing expansion of two types of companies: manufacturers and non-profit organizations. Bond financing can provide up to 100 percent funding of a qualified project within federally specified dollar limits.

IDRBs are beneficial to qualified companies as they are longer term and available at a lower interest rate than most commercial loans. The interest on the bonds has preferable income tax treatment by the IRS and those savings are passed along to the user. Like commercial loans, IDRB approval is related to the company’s credit worthiness.

Do We Qualify?
Existing manufacturers and not-for-profit corporations are eligible to apply. Applicants need to demonstrate that IDRB financing would fund business expansion projects within the Orlando region. Projects must be economically beneficial to the county, provide gainful employment, and protect the environment, as well as the general welfare and public health of the state of Florida. Commercial and industrial applicants must also demonstrate that at least 75% of the space/facility built using IDRB funds would be used for core manufacturing. It is recommended that applicants consult with bond counsel to determine eligibility.

How do we apply?
  • The Orlando Economic Partnership (the Partnership) serves as the point-of-contact for bonds in Orange and Seminole Counties. Determine in which county the facility will be located and refer to that county's bond application guidelines listed to the right under "Downloads." Note: For Osceola County, IDRB information is available through the county's economic development department.
  • Contact a certified bond counsel to work with you and the Partnership throughout the application process.
  • Submit required number of copies of the application and the application fee of $1,500 to the Partnership three weeks prior to a regularly scheduled meeting.

    Orange County: Meets every 3rd Tuesday of every month, 2 p.m.
    Orange County Admin. Building, 3rd Floor, Conf. Room B
    Orlando, FL 32801

    Seminole County: Meets every 3rd Tuesday of every month, 8:30 a.m.
    Orlando EP, Seminole County Office
    1055 AAA Drive, Suite 142
    Heathrow, FL 32746

What happens next?
  • The Partnership submits qualified applicants to the Industrial Development Authority (IDA), who will assist in the review and approval of the bond resolution.
  • IDA approved applications are submitted to the appropriate County Commission for final approval.

What is the minimum/maximum Bond amount?
The minimum is $1.25 million. The maximum for manufacturers is $10 million; no maximum for 501(c)3 not-for-profit organizations. Provided that the total of all of the borrower’s capital expenditures during the period beginning 3 years prior to the issuance of the bonds and ending 3 years after the issuance of the bonds with respect to the borrrower's facilities within the local jurisdiction, plus the amount of the bonds, will not exceed $20 million. No limit for tax-exempt organizations. Note: 501(c)6 do not qualify.

What is the interest rate?
Typically below conventional commercial lending rates.

How long is the term?
Up to 30 years.

Enterprise Florida Bond Program: This program is available for manufacturing projects between $800,000 and $2 million. The guidelines are similar to the regular Industrial Revenue Bond Program. These issues are pooled with other projects and approved on a quarterly basis.
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