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Centers open to help businesses hit by red tide

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All across the region, businesses are struggling to stay afloat. They’ve taken a serious hit from this red tide crisis, and now a federal agency is stepping in to help.

The U.S. Small Business Administration is offering low-interest Economic Injury Disaster Loans to Florida small businesses, small agricultural cooperatives, small aquaculture business and private nonprofit organizations affected by the red tide bloom.

The loans will be offered for those effected by the bloom that began on Nov. 1, 2017.

Inside a small room at the Island Branch Library in Holmes Beach, people are coming in to find hope.
Red tide has stolen so much from these hardworking men and women, and they need help to weather this storm and stay afloat.

“Any businesses that were impacted need to see if they can qualify,” said SBA spokesman Edward Dawson.

The US Small Business Administration has opened up disaster assistance centers in Manatee and Sarasota counties. Business owners could receive a loan of up to $2 million.

The rates on the loans are 3.38 percent for small business and 2.5 percent for nonprofit organizations with terms up to 30 years.

Bev Lesnick owns the Island Coffee Haus in Holmes Beach. Once red tide arrived, the customers vanished.

“It almost went to a ghost town,” she said. “I had put money aside for September, but August kind of took a lot of that” 

Businesses like hers have really taken a hit. Even businesses that are miles away from the beach have lost substantial revenue.

These loans can be very helpful because outside perception could still keep tourists away for quite a while.

“We’re just trying to help my employees make sure that they have a job and then try and keep things together, keep your fingers in the dike,” said Lesnick.

She’s hoping the tourists come back soon.

“‘Right now the beaches are beautiful and this is the perfect opportunity if you’ve never been to Anna Maria Island to come and visit because there are so many good deals,” said Lesnick.

SBA’s customer service representatives will be available at Disaster Loan Outreach Centers to answer questions about the disaster loan program and help individuals complete their applications.

Two centers will be open in the Tampa Bay area, including:

Manatee County
Manatee County Library, Island Branch
5701 Marina Road
Homes Beach, FL 34217
Opens Sept. 7 at 11 a.m.
Hours: Monday-Friday 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Sarasota County
Bee Ridge Park
4430 South Lockwood Road
Sarasota, FL 34231
Opens Sept. 7 at 11 a.m.
Hours: Monday-Friday 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

The centers will remain available for as long as they’re needed.

Eligibility is based on the size and type of business and its financial resources.

Applications and program information are available by calling the SBA’s customer service center at 1-800-659-2955 or by emailing disastercustomerservice@sba.gov.

Loan applications can be downloaded at www.sba.gov.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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