Gov. Rick Scottactivated Florida’s Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan Program today for businesses affected by the presence of algal blooms in local waterways.
One of theU.S. Small Business Administration(SBA) recovery centers is located at the Small Business Development Center at FGCU.
.Earlier this month, Scott directed theFlorida Departmentof Economic Opportunity (DEO) to activate a virtual business emergency operations center to survey businesses affected by the algal blooms in Lee, Martin, Palm Beach and St. Lucie Counties. After receiving more than 50 surveys from local businesses, DEO has opened the application period for loans to eligible small businesses until Aug. 31.
Businesses can email the development center at FGCU email@example.com call239-745-3704.
Businesses interested in learning more about SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loans should visithttp://goo.gl/933umu. Qualifying business may apply online athttp://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela.
FROM WEDNESDAY'S NEWS-PRESS.COM
Fifty-four businesses from seven counties have alerted the state they have suffered some form of economic damage from toxic green algae coating waterways in parts of Florida.
The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity has been compiling data the past two weeks to determine which programs will help recovery efforts, agency spokeswoman Morgan McCord said.
All of these businesses have indicated economic damage, and a handful have expressed interest in (Small Business Administration) economic injury loans and bridge loans from the state, McCord said.
No timeline was immediately available on when decisions would be made regarding the loans.
The businesses impacted are involved in industries such as fishing, boating, restaurants and retail.
Half of the complaints have come from businesses in Martin County, where the outcry about the algae has been the loudest.
The Martin County Commission declared a state of emergency last month in response to the algae after elevated levels of toxins were found at sampling sites along the St. Lucie River. The county's health department also issued an advisory that encouraged people to avoid discolored water or visible blooms.
Another 11 businesses have reported impacts inSt. Lucie Countyand 12 are from Lee County.
Reports have also been filed by single businesses in Palm Beach, Indian River and Sarasota counties and the inland Sumter County.
On June 29, Gov. Rick Scott issued an emergency order for Martin and St. Lucie counties because of widespread algae blooms in the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee estuaries, located on the east and west sides ofLake Okeechobee. Lee and Palm Beach counties were added the next day.
Scott has also said he will include in his proposed budget for next year matching-grant money for local governments to reduce the use of septic systems, which is believed to contribute to the water conditions.
Meanwhile, incoming Senate PresidentJoe Negron, R-Stuart, intends to pursue the use of voter-approved environmental money to buy land and shift the flow of water south out of Lake Okeechobee. Nutrient-laden water is now sent into waterways to the east and west when lake levels get too high.
Both proposals have come amid renewed calls for acquiring sugar-industry land to allow water to be sent south from Lake Okeechobee and revisiting state management of water quality rules that have been imposed since 2011.
On Wednesday, theJames Madison Institute, a Tallahassee-based free-market think tank, issued a report that advised lawmakers not to rush into making policy changes.
Whatever projects are going to fix some of these problems, let's make sure that they are scientifically based, and not based on just somebody's opinion or emotion … it's not just a computer model that someone put together, saidDan Peterson, the institute's director of the Center for Property Rights. Let's really dig in and get some scientific data, so we have a firm foundation for our decisions.
Peterson authored the report, which proposes a study to determine the impact on the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee river estuaries from local runoff and from U.S. Army Corps of Engineers-regulated releases of water from Lake Okeechobee.
Today, Governor Rick Scott activated Florida’s Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan Program for businesses affected by the presence of algal blooms in local waterways.Earlier this month, Governor Scott directed the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) to activate a virtual business emergency operations center to survey businesses affected by the algal blooms in Lee, Martin, Palm Beach and St. Lucie Counties. After receiving more than 50 surveys from local businesses, DEO has opened the application period for loans to eligible small businesses from July 14 to August 31, 2016.
Governor Scott said, “While Florida’s residents, waterways and economy have been severely impacted by this environmental emergency, our state has not hesitated to take action to support our coastal communities. Today, I activated Florida’s Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan Program to offer assistance to local small businesses in need of financial aid following the recent algal blooms. We remain prepared to use every resource available to make sure Florida’s families and natural treasures are protected.”
DEO Executive Director Cissy Proctor said, “The department’s virtual emergency operations center has collected information from many local businesses that have been damaged by the algae blooms. Small businesses are the backbone of Florida’s economy, and the bridge loan program will help those businesses affected by the algae meet their needs until the area recovers.”
The Florida Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan Program provides short-term loans to assist a business until other financial resources, such as a U.S. Small Business Administration Economic Injury Disaster Loan, are secured after a natural disaster. To see if a business is eligible or to complete an application by August 31, 2016 visitwww.floridadisasterloan.org. For additional questions regarding local administration of the Emergency Bridge Loan Program, contact representatives from the Florida Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs).
News Service of Florida Assignment Manager Tom Urban contributed to this report.