FORT MYERS BEACH, Fla. (WFLA) — Gov. Ron DeSantis announced changes to the Florida Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan Program at a news conference in Fort Myers Beach on Thursday.
Gov. DeSantis said the state has waived an eligibility requirement for the loan program that would prevent sole proprietors in the marine-fisheries industry from receiving the short term, zero interest loans.
The Emergency Bridge Loans Program is intended to “bridge the gap” between a disaster and when affected businesses secure longer term relief like federal funds or from insurance, according to Gov. DeSantis’ office.
The move came after representatives from the state Department of Economic Opportunity and Division of Emergency Management met with small business owners on Wednesday at a pop-up Disaster Recovery Center, aimed at bolstering the fishing industry in the wake of the storm.
“Our marine fisheries have sustained huge impacts as a result of Hurricane Ian and those impacts are far reaching,” Gov. DeSantis said. “I am committed to ensuring that Florida’s fishing industry stays afloat, and that includes supporting the Floridians who make their living on the water.”
Gov. DeSantis’ office said loan requests from businesses in Charlotte, Collier, DeSoto, Hardee, Lee and Sarasota counties will be prioritized.
Eligible small businesses can apply for up to $50,000 in loans. You can read more about the program here.