CHARLOTTE COUNTY — Vice President Mike Pence talked with representatives of the tourism industry in Florida on Wednesday.
But here in southwest Florida, many business owners want him to know they still haven’t received any help from the federal government.
Charlotte County Tourism Director Wendie Vestfall said smaller counties like Charlotte are some of the last to see those federal dollars roll in. And she said, for many people, they can’t wait much longer.
Before the virus hit, Vestfall said Charlotte County was getting ready for a record year.
“In the swing of about 30 days, we went from the highest of highs, to kind of the lowest of lows," said Vestfall.
Now, restaurants are starting to reopen, and people are getting back on the beach, but the one thing that hasn’t shown up for most businesses are federal loans.
“The last study I saw, said about 17%. So it’s still, people are waiting. They’re waiting on money, and it’s kind of getting to a point where it’s getting almost to being desperate," said Vestfall.
And Vestfall says, it’s not just business owners who are hurting.
“I know from the county government side, we have not been given any money yet as a county government as well, and so there’s a lot of backlash, and you now, just waiting." said Vestfall.
Compare that to the $135 million that Lee County just received. Even though Vestfall couldn’t speak to Pence on his visit, we wondered what she might say to him now.
"I just think, if at all possible, they need to remember these small businesses," said Vestfall.
Vestfall said she’s also anxiously waiting for Governor DeSantis to lift the ban on short-term rentals. She said that would give a much-needed boost to tourism in Charlotte County.