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 Florida fisheries industry be declared a disaster. 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. For more information, contact FWC.

FWC Wholesale Dealer Applications

Due Date:  March 7, 2020

If you operate a Wholesale Distributor (WD) business in one of the counties determined to be eligible for disaster assistance and do not receive a WD application by February 8, 2020, or have other Hurricane Irma Disaster Recovery questions or concerns, please email us at In the email, please include:

  • your name,
  • license type(s) and
  • license number(s).

You may also contact the Division of Marine Fisheries Management at 850-487-0554. More information can be found at

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”