IRMA: Business and Tourism Revitalization

Since Hurricane Irma, the business sectors within the hospitality industry, retail sector, restaurants and marine-related sectors such as charter boat captains and lobstermen, are challenged to operate at full capacity without sufficient, qualified personnel, destroyed equipment, and/or damaged buildings. The Florida Keys Commercial Fishermen’s Association estimates the lobster fishing industry lost 42.64 million as a result of Hurricane Irma. The reconstruction effort itself has suffered severely due to a lack of qualified construction personnel, electricians, plumbers, roofers, and others. Throughout the Florida Keys, we see homes and businesses that await even simple roofing repairs or replacement of damaged signage. We also see a multitude of businesses that have not reopened. As we develop post-disaster recovery initiatives to create economic opportunities, we must collaborate to determine local business recovery needs and strengthen applications for disaster recovery funds.

NOAA Disaster Supplemental for Marine Fisheries (44.6 Million statewide)

In October 2017, Governor Rick Scott requested that the U.S. Department of Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross declare a fishery disaster in Florida. Secretary Ross declared a fishery disaster on February 8, 2018. NOAA Fisheries allocated $44,608,039 to the State of Florida to respond to the 2017 Hurricane Irma disaster. 

The FWC has received notification from NOAA Fisheries that the Hurricane Irma Fisheries Disaster grant has been approved beginning July 1, 2019. While there are several projects in this grant, payment to fishermen and wholesale dealers impacted by Hurricane Irma is a priority.

Several projects in the Hurricane Irma Fisheries Disaster Relief Program were established to provide funding to commercial fishermen and wholesale dealers who were negatively affected by Hurricane Irma in September 2017. This Disaster Relief Program will include separate components to specifically compensate lobster trap certificate holders, SPL holders, wholesale dealers who were in coastal counties from Dixie to Monroe on the Gulf coast and from Monroe to Nassau counties on the Atlantic coast.

To be eligible to receive a payment under this program, you must be a registered vendor in the State of Florida purchasing system and you must have an active W-9 on file.

Step 1. Complete registration and upload an active W-9 at Note: It usually takes 3-5 days for system processing.

Step 2. Login to CLS Online to verify and update your address, phone number, and e-mail. We need the most up to date contact information to process payments.

Starting the beginning of July, you will start receiving additional letters and emails to explain each program area and how payments will be calculated. To ensure that assistance will be provided, and payment can be made, make sure to COMPLETE the steps above.

Available government funds are limited. The Fisheries Disaster Relief Program may not be able to cover fishermen fully for their losses. The program does not cover stone crab losses since that was not in season when Hurricane Irma hit. 

If you have further questions regarding your reimbursement, you may contact Dan Ellinor at or Alan Peirce at, or the Division of Marine Fisheries Management at 850-487-0554.


FWC became aware that some applications were incorrect due to an internal FWC miscommunication. FWC is mailing out new, updated applications to everyone who had a Salt Water Products License. Some key points:

  • Applicants do not have to mail in their current applications.
  • The October 31, 2019 deadline is no longer valid.
  • New applications will be mailed out later this month or early November. It will state in bold, red text: “UPDATED APPLICATION – PLEASE READ”
  • A new deadline will be set.
  • Even if the current application has been mailed to FWC, they will still need the new application.

"We understand that this is a huge inconvenience to these fishermen," said Devin Resko, FWC's Hurricane Irma Fisheries Grant Coordinator. "I’ve been fielding hundreds of calls, apologizing for this, and will continue to do so until we’ve fixed the issue. If anyone has any questions, they can call FWC and we will speak with them."

Devin Resko can be reached at 850-445-9533. 

Recovery Workforce Training - No Set-Aside for Keys

The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO), through its Division of Workforce Services, will utilize existing programs to bolster workforce recovery training throughout the state. DEO’s Recovery Workforce Training Program will be focused on growing the workforce needed to support long-term recovery jobs, primarily in the housing construction field.  We continue to await approval of final program requirements. 

Business Recovery Grant Program - No Set-Aside for the Keys

DEO will create a grant program for eligible business owners who are seeking reimbursement for the cost of replacing equipment and inventory damaged by Hurricane Irma. We continue to await approval of final program requirements.

The repayment of Small Business Administration (SBA) loans is not allowed under federal guidelines for this funding and documentation of impacts from Hurricane Irma will be required. Additional guidance on the application process, eligibility, and program management will be defined after approval of this action plan, and state guidance is issued on this program.

Rebuild Florida Business Loan Fund

The Rebuild Florida Business Loan Fund is a program created to provide financing to small businesses that are still recovering from Hurricane Irma. The funds will address the current gap in available, affordable capital for businesses that can be used for inventory purchases, construction, working capital, equipment financing and more.

There are 2 types of loans offered Express and Standard:

RLF Express Loan:

Requires less paperwork and is a quick funding process for small businesses affected by Hurricane Irma. The application process is no different from Standard Loan; however, the approval time is much quicker. Greater emphasis is placed on the revenues and it is a profitable business. Credit score will have greater weight when approving or denying a loan application. If the company can meet all four requirements below, the loan committee may approve the loan faster:

  1. Credit Score above 650
  2. Debt Service Ratio greater than 1
  3. Strong Revenues
  4. Profitable Business

The cost of the loan may be higher due to its expedited processing. Below are the loan terms for the RLF Express Loan:

  1. Loan Amount up to $350,000
  2. 3-5 years
  3. Application Fee = $250
  4. Minimum of 4% or 75% of prime rate listed in the Wall Street Journal, whichever is lower.
  5. Loans over $25,000 may require collateral

RLF Standard Loan: 

Targeted for small businesses affected by Hurricane Irma. This loan will be replicated very similarly to the SBA loan, with slight variation. Such as interest rates, and loan maturities. When approving or denying a loan, greater weight will be put into the business and its long-term viability and repayment ability. There will greater flexibility on debt to service ratios.

  1. Loan amount up to $500,000
  2. 5-10 years
  3. Application Fee = $500
  4. Minimum of 4% or 75% of prime rate listed in the Wall Street Journal, whichever is lower.
  5. For a startup, a minimum of $1 of the owner’s money invested in the business for $3 of loan funding.
  6. For an established business, a maximum of $4 of debt to $1 of net worth for the business.
  7. Loans over $25,000 may require collateral*

*Collateral coverage ratio represents the percentage of a loan secured by a discounted asset. Required coverage will be at least 1:1.6 or higher. Discount rates may be used to reduce collateral value. Discount rates will be assessed by the Loan Administration Board during the loan approval process. Validation will be done by a third party independent appraiser. This will be paid for by the borrower. Valuation of collateral and discount rates will be assessed on a per loan basis.

Interest Rate:

Interest rates will be determined using the Wall Street Journal listed prime rate at the following link:

The application fees are dependent on the loan size ranging from $250-$1,000.

For information on eligibility and allowable lending activity, visit: Rebuild Florida Business Loan

Loan Selection Criteria:

All applications will be reviewed by DEO staff through an underwriting and due diligence process. The following criteria will be considered:

  • Is the proposed loan consistent with the “Prudent Lending Practices” (13 CFR § 307.8)?
  • Will the proposed loan result in the creation or retention of higher-skill and higher-wage jobs?
  • Is the business credit worthy?
  • Did the business suffer economic injury or physical damage from Hurricane Irma?

How to Apply:

  1. Go to:
  2. Click “Sign Up” in the bottom right-hand corner
  3. Enter the following information:
    1. First Name
    2. Last Name
    3. Username (email address)
    4. Email
    5. Password
    6. Confirm Password
  4. Enter the verification code sent to your email address
  5. Click “New Loan Application”
  6. Click “Click Here to Begin Your Rebuild Florida Business Loan Fund Application”