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 lobster men, 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.

Upcoming Business and Tourism Meeting: April 2019

Monroe County is seeking to develop a Post Disaster Recovery Strategy to collaborate across all sectors in identifying initiatives to meet the needs of the business community and strengthen the long-term viability of all interconnected sectors.  We are scheduling a Business and Tourism Workshop for April 2019 for details of the goal of this workshop click here.  If you are a member of the business community, and interested in supporting this initiative, please contact your Chamber of Commerce Director or you may email Helene Wetherington at  

NOAA Disaster Supplemental for Marine Fisheries (44.6 Million statewide)

In October 2017 Governor Scott requested that the US 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. A proposal was submitted by FWC in consultation with fishing industry organizations and individuals.  The proposal currently awaits approval by NOAA.  To see a see the DRAFT proposal which is awaiting approval click here.

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 guidance 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.