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DeSantis awards more than $7M to support small businesses in Southwest Florida

The $7 million comes from the Florida Disaster Fund.

FORT MYERS, Fla — Gov. Ron DeSantis traveled to Fort Myers Friday to spotlight the work the state has done in the months after Hurricane Ian.

Over the course of six months, the Florida Division of Emergency Management (FDEM) has secured almost $800,000 million in Public Assistance obligations at record speed, a news release from the governor's office said. In addition, Florida's state-led housing program has helped 504 households with travel trailers. The governor's office said its outpacing FEMA's 460 households that received trailers.

"When the federal government dragged its feet to provide temporary housing trailers and home repairs for impacted Floridians, Florida stepped up to help Floridians in need," the news release said.

After Hurricane Ian swept through Florida, many businesses were left in ruins or suffered serious damage. On Friday, DeSantis awarded more than $7 million from the Florida Disaster Fund to support small businesses in Southwest Florida impacted by the hurricane.

"When Hurricane Ian made landfall, we made a promise that we would be there for impacted Floridians every step of the way through the recovery process," DeSantis said in a statement. "After the cameras left and the dust settled, we continued to stand up programs where the federal government dragged its feet and we continued to find ways to support Floridians whose needs did not fit into a specific government program. 

"We are glad to be adding to these efforts with today’s announcements."

Of the $7 million awarded to small businesses, $3 million will go to the nonprofit arm of the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association, the governor said. It will help expand their ability to provide economic relief to hospitality-based businesses. 

The other $4 million will create a new Small Business Recovery Impact program "to support additional small businesses outside of the hospitality sector that have been unable to reopen due to lack of capital."

"Small businesses will be eligible for up to $50,000 grants to support their employees and help to reopen and pay for things like equipment, drywall, and commodities," the governor's office reports.

DeSantis also spoke about permanent repairs to the Pine Island bridge and Sanibel Causeway. The Pine Island bridge repairs are expected to be completed by fall 2023 and its estimated to cost $25 million at the time of completion. Permanent repairs to Sanibel Causeway are expected to finish at the end of the year with a total cost estimated at $350 million

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