Scott working to declare Lee County economic injury disaster area

Published: Updated:
Photo: WINK News Drone taken July 31.

You know by now Southwest Florida’s water crisis is hitting local businesses hard, and many owners we talked to say they don’t have anywhere to turn for help.

Governor Rick Scott is working to change that. He wants our water crisis declared an economic injury disaster. Clearing the way for federal help.

If the Small Business Administration declares this as a disaster then small businesses and charter captains who work on their own can finally get the help they need and at a better cost.

Fishing captain and owner of a fly shop, WestWall Outfitters, in Punta Gorda, Josh Greer says he’s one of the many small business owners suffering from the red tide, “Its hard for a guy like myself to say hey I need help, I’m in trouble and unfortunately, we’re at the point.”

Greer says immediately he was hit when red tide appeared, “That’s the problem, we’re the first ones to go and usually the last to get help. Because we are, we’re very small businesses we’re sole proprietors. No one seems to care about us”

But as a sole proprietor, he’s not eligible to get a $50,000 loan from the states emergency program, “It’s not just me, there’s a lot of fishing captains, charter boats, kayak rentals, the guys who are renting beach chairs, they don’t have employees they’re all sole proprietors and no ones helping us .. Its sad” he said.

But he’s not giving up hope just yet.

Governor Scott’s now asking for federal help and wants to declare this an economic injury disaster so the SBA can offer loans to captains like Greer at a low-interest rate.

News Greer is happy to hear, “If they make it so sole proprietors and the little guys can get some help. It would help for sure”

In a letter to the SBA, Governor Scott says Lee County lost nearly $7 million from 84 businesses suffering from the toxic algae bloom alone.

And owners say they’re not surprised

Copyright ©2024 Fort Myers Broadcasting. All rights reserved.

This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without prior written consent.