FORT MYERS BEACH, Fla. -- The Fort Myers Beach Chamber of Commerce offered free business consulting to those who are losing business because of red tide, Wednesday.
The workshop started 10 A.M. and lasted until 5 P.M. Duane Hofersten, consultant for the Small Business Development Center at Florida Gulf Coast University, works with several businesses in the area. According to Hofersten, condo rental profits are down around 70%, while hotels are down about 30. "It's probably among the worst disasters they've had in the last three years for this period of time," he said.
Many went into Wednesday's workshop with questions about a bridge loan Governor Rick Scott recently created for businesses impacted by red tide. Hofersten advises against taking it. "Unfortunately, the terms aren't very good on this. If they don't pay it back within 6 months, the interest rate is 18 percent," he said.
Instead, the SBCD consultant finds other ways to get business owners through this challenge.
Hofersten first finds ways for businesses to cut costs. This looks different for everyone. Then, he discusses how the business can innovate. "Are there other revenue streams of income we can look at? A restaurant I had in here this morning, we're going to look at trying to do some catering," he said.
The SBCD's services are free for all, and Hofersten says consultants are widely available. If your business has been impacted by the effects of red tide, the Fort Myers Beach Chamber of Commerce can link you with a consultant like Hofersten.
Hofernsten tells 4 In Your Corner Governor Scott has asked FEMA to declare Lee County a federal disaster area. If that is approved, it would qualify some businesses for long term loans with better interest rates. Check back with Fox 4 for updates.