Red-Tide Relief for Your Small Business
Small businesses in SWFL are feeling the negative economic impact of the latest red tide disaster. Some businesses have been directly impacted due to actual red tide blooms near their businesses located in coastal areas. The businesses most directly impacted include restaurants, boating, fishing, lodging and water sports. Coastal areas that are not directly impacted by red tide blooms are also feeling the adverse effects due to negative perception. Red tide is decreasing tourism in this region during our slow season, and could have a huge impact on the fall and winter tourism and snow bird season. Even businesses that are miles from the coast are experiencing a decline in sales due to the negative perception and decreased tourism. I recently spoke to one of my clients at the Tin City Marina in Naples. Although that part of Naples is clear from the red tide, his sales are down 47% from the same time last year. He believes that the red tide will have a more severe economic impact than the hurricane – and he was out of business for 4 months after Irma hit.
Last month, Governor Rick Scott and the United States Small Business Administration (SBA) announced that federal low-interest Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDLs) have been made available to qualifying small businesses in Florida counties that have been adversely affected by red tide algal blooms and toxic algal blooms respectively.
The EIDLs will be available to small businesses, small agricultural cooperatives, small aquaculture businesses, as well as private nonprofit organizations affected by red tide algal blooms and toxic algal blooms in Lee and Collier Counties.
Eligible entities may qualify for loans up to $2,000,000 with the purpose of meeting working capital needs caused by the disaster. Rates on these loans are as low as 3.385% for small businesses and 2.5% for nonprofit organizations with terms up to 30 years.
These loans are not provided by banks. They are provided directly from the SBA. You may apply online at DisasterLoan.sba.gov. SBA Customer Service Representatives will also be available at Disaster Loan Outreach Centers to answer questions about the disaster loan program. The center for SWFL applicants is located at the City/County annex on 1825 Hendry St. in downtown Fort Myers. Their hours are 9am-6pm M-F and 10am-2pm on Saturdays. Applications and program information are available by calling the SBA’s Customer Service Center at 1-800-659-2955.
DO NOT procrastinate applying for this loan! I will apply my Big Mistake Little Mistake Theory. Little mistake is you take out this loan, pay a little bit of interest, then pay it back quickly because you are not adversely effected by this bloom long term. Big mistake is you don’t apply and your business can not sustain the downturn, you run out of working capital, and in a worst case scenario…..you go out of business. If you have any questions or want to chat about any other of the SBA loan programs, give me a call at 239-288-9966.