SARASOTA COUNTY (WFLA) — It’s been over a month since Hurricane Ian moved through the area. Recovery is ongoing in the southern portion of Sarasota County and to this day, some businesses there have yet to reopen their doors.
The Economic Development Corporation in Sarasota County says national statistics show nearly 40% of businesses that close due to something such as a major storm may never reopen.
8 On Your Side spoke with business owners who are working to get their businesses back up and running from Venice to North Port.
Venice Pier Group continues working with the county to figure out the best path for restoration of its Snook Haven restaurant on the Myakka River.
“We had about three or four feet of water inside the restaurant which took about two weeks for it to recede so we could get in there,” said VPG president Justin Pachota. “There’s a tremendous financial impact. Obviously, we have to take time when the restaurant is not open. We are not making money and spending money to get it back working again, but also on our staff. We have 30 employees at Snook Haven. They have all been displaced, some of them don’t have homes to go back to, so trying to get them working, earning money, and getting their place that they were working back opened up has been really a challenge,” he continued.
The Classic Ballet Academy in North Port had opened its doors to students shortly before the storm shut them down. The storm caused damage to their roof which resulted in significant water damage throughout the studio. A sign on their front door says the business is closed until further notice, but owner Darli Iakovleva said she’s hopeful to reopen in January at the latest.
“I hope, but there is no telling how long it will take for all of the repairs, but as soon as possible we would love to have all of our students back,” said Iakovleva.
With help from the City of North Port Iakovleva filled out the state’s Business Damage Assessment Survey. It’s something the EDC is urging more business owners to complete as soon as possible.
“It is so critical for businesses to reply to that survey, so when the state is looking at where to distribute funds and resources, they recognize that Sarasota County has been immensely impacted by Hurricane Ian,” said EDC president and CEO Lisa Krouse.
Of the 27,000 businesses licensed within Sarasota County, 500 have replied to the survey, according to Krouse.
“So we know that we have only scratched the surface of the businesses that have been impacted by Ian. We really want to get a good assessment of the level of damage and damage doesn’t necessarily mean physical damage, but it is across the board,” Krouse said. “We know that our workforces have been tremendously impacted, we know that product has been impacted, and our workforce is really dealing with their personal issues which certainly has an impact on the businesses that are doing business within Sarasota County itself.”
The EDC understands connectivity is still a challenge for some businesses in Sarasota County. That’s why they’re offering help.
“All they have to do is call the EDC of Sarasota County, we will do it on their behalf. We’ll make it as simple as painless as possible because it is that critical,” said Krouse.
Representatives with the EDC of Sarasota County can be reached at 941-309-1200 or Info@edcsarasotacounty.com.