Storm Smart CEO turns down PPP loan

Reporter: Sydney Persing Writer: Jackie Winchester
Published: Updated:
Credit: WINK News

A Southwest Florida businessman who received a “Paycheck Protection Program” loan meant for small businesses is giving the money back, and he said it’s because of a “neighbor” he met while watching WINK News.

WINK News recently did a story where Christine Bowen, a recently unemployed single mother, said she had to beg her boss for frozen hamburgers just to feed her kids. Her woes didn’t end there.

“We don’t have a washer and dryer and I don’t have the money to get to a laundromat,” she said.

That’s one employee. What about my other 26 employees?” said Vollen Loucks, owner of Duval Street Restaurant where Bowen worked.

Bowen and Loucks didn’t know one viewer who saw the story was Storm Smart CEO Brian Rist, who lives a few miles down the road in Cape Coral.

“The thought that a bag of frozen hamburgers could be the difference between dinner and no dinner,” Rist said.

Bowen’s story helped him decide to return a $2.7 million small business loan he got from the federal government.

“I just couldn’t see how we could take that money and use it for our people when there were so many businesses and people that were far worse than us,” he said.

Now Rist is asking everyone to look out for their neighbors, even if you don’t know them.

Help – if you can, however you can.

“Sometimes everybody needs a little bit of help, and that lady, she’s just an example of all those ladies out there, and men too,” Rist said.

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