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New list provides assistance options for Florida coastal businesses

By: Rhett Register

Florida Sea Grant is maintaining a curated list of disaster assistance options for Florida’s coastal businesses disrupted by COVID-19.

The list contains links to details about well- and lesser-known options and includes “quick takeaway” overviews of each assistance program. Well-funded and widely available programs are prioritized on the list. The page also houses a collection of links to additional useful resources, including materials in Spanish.

“There is a lot of information floating around out there,” says Andrew Ropicki, Florida Sea Grant natural resources economist and one of the project leaders. “We are trying to provide a timely and accurate collection of resources that will be useful for Florida coastal businesses.”

The project team — which includes experts from Florida Sea Grant, University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) Extension, and the UF/IFAS Center for Public Issues Education — stresses that the best place to start an application for disaster aid is to visit with your bank or lender and the Florida Small Business Development Center (SBDC). They also suggest contacting local representatives by telephone or email and not to just rely on internet-based applications.

“[I] really appreciate the outstanding work that you and FSG have done on consolidating the various types of aid available to fishermen due to the virus,” said Bill Kelly, executive director of the Florida Keys Commercial Fishermen’s Association, in a recent email. “I’ve been searching for a list like this and you just provided it.”

To view the list and additional resources, visit flseagrant.org/disaster-assistance/.