Governor Ron DeSantis, Florida Department of Economic Opportunity Host Roundtable with Southwest Florida Businesses to Discuss Next Steps for Hurricane Ian Recovery

Oct 13, 2022

CAPE CORAL, Fla. — Today, Governor Ron DeSantis and the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) hosted a roundtable with more than a dozen Southwest Florida businesses. The roundtable discussion included representatives across industry sectors who shared their unique perspectives, needs, and obstacles for regaining economic self-sufficiency. This discussion will inform the state’s immediate and long-term business and workforce recovery efforts in the region.


“Many small businesses in Southwest Florida are facing a long road to recovery, and to meet their needs, I have challenged every state agency to identify and remove obstacles standing in their way,” said Governor Ron DeSantis. “Fully recovering from Hurricane Ian requires a long-term commitment, and we will continue to provide resources and make strategic investments to help these communities get back on their feet as quickly as possible.”

“As a Lee County native, I know that small business owners are truly the backbone of the Southwest Florida community. Their insight is invaluable as we work to ensure a speedy economic recovery,” said DEO Secretary Dane Eagle. “Under Governor DeSantis’ leadership, DEO will continue working hand-in-hand with the business community in Southwest Florida and beyond to expedite their recovery and enhance their economic resiliency.”


Participants from the Southwest Florida business community included:

  • Steve Rye, CEO of Mercola Health Resources and Mercola Market in Cape Coral
  • Marty Harrity, Owner of Doc Ford’s Rum Bar and Grille in Sanibel
  • Jay Johnson, Owner of Bubba’s Roadhouse and Saloon in Cape Coral
  • Greg Spencer, CEO of Timbers Resorts
  • Matt Sinclair, President of Sinclair Custom Homes, Inc. in Matlacha
  • Robbie Roepstorff, President of Edison National Bank and Bank of the Islands in Matlacha
  • Matt Simmons, Managing Partner of Maxwell, Hendry & Simmons, LLC in Fort Myers
  • Tommy Kolar, Vice President of Yucatan Waterfront, Inc. in Matlacha
  • Cathy Eagle, Charter Boat Captain and Owner of Captain Cathy Eagle Boat Tours in Matlacha
  • Bob Rosier, President of Rosier Insurance in Sanibel
  • Jeff Miloff, Partner and Broker at Miloff Aubuchon Realty Group Cape Coral
  • Jerron Hull, President and CEO of AIM Engineering & Surveying, Inc. in Fort Myers
  • Jason Moon, President of Elite DNA Therapy in Naples
  • Nomiki Neskes, Co-owner of Plaka Restaurant Fort Myers Beach
  • Leoma Lovegrove, Owner, Leoma Lovegrove Gallery & Gardens in Matlacha
  • Bernard Johnson, Owner, Bert’s Bar and Bert’s Pine Bay Gallery
  • Mark Marinello, Owner, HM Restaurant Group, LLC


Recovery Capital for Businesses

Last week, Governor DeSantis activated the Florida Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan Program, administered by DEO and its fiscal administrator, Florida First Capital Finance Corporation, for businesses impacted by Hurricane Ian. $50 million is available through the program, $10 million of which must go to small businesses that are agricultural producers. Eligible small businesses impacted by Hurricane Ian must be located in Brevard, Charlotte, Collier, DeSoto, Flagler, Glades, Hardee, Hendry, Highlands, Hillsborough, Lake, Lee, Manatee, Monroe, Orange, Osceola, Pinellas, Polk, Putnam, Sarasota, Seminole, St. Johns, or Volusia counties to qualify for the program. Small businesses in the most impacted counties — Charlotte, Collier, DeSoto, Hardee, Lee, and Sarasota — will be escalated and prioritized as they are received.


Loans approved through the Emergency Bridge Loan Program are intended to “bridge the gap” between the time a disaster impacts a business and when a business has secured longer term recovery funding such as federally or commercially available loans, insurance claims, or other resources. Eligible small businesses may apply for loans of up to $50,000 through the program. To date, more than $4.8 million has been awarded through the loan program to 106 businesses that were impacted by the storm.


Visit to apply and learn more about the program. Business owners who need further program information may call 833-832-4494 Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Eastern Time.


Businesses that sustained either physical or economic damage are also encouraged to self-report damages through the Business Damage Assessment Survey at to inform the needs of the business community. This survey allows the state to expedite Hurricane Ian recovery efforts by gathering data and assessing the needs of affected businesses. Results from the Business Damage Assessment Survey will be shared with various federal, state, and local agencies to implement appropriate relief. To date, the state has received more than 2,000 survey responses from businesses across Florida.


Business Recovery Centers and Disaster Recovery Centers

Florida activated Business Recovery Centers in partnership with the U.S. Small Business Administration and the Small Business Development Center Network to connect businesses impacted by Hurricane Ian with critical resources. For a list of Business Recovery Centers and their hours, click here


The state of Florida is fully engaged at five Disaster Recovery centers to help individuals and businesses in areas impacted by Hurricane Ian. Disaster Recovery Centers are a coordinated effort between FEMA, the Florida Division of Emergency Management, and state agencies and partners to provide wrap-around resources and information about recovery programs and disaster assistance to survivors.


The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, the CareerSource Florida Network, the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation, the Agency for Persons with Disabilities, the Department of Veterans Affairs, Florida Legal Services, the Florida Department of Children and Families, the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, and the Area Agency on Aging for Southwest Florida are available to provide information and resources. The following DRC locations are open daily:


Lee County Site #1

Lakes Regional Library

15290 Bass Road

Fort Myers, FL 33919

Hours: Daily 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.


Lee County Site #2

Fort Myers DMS Building

2295 Victoria Ave.

Ft. Myers, FL 33901

Hours: Daily 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.


Sarasota County

Shannon Staub Library

4675 Career Lane

North Port, FL 34289

Hours: Daily 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.


Collier County

Veterans Community Park

1895 Veterans Park Drive

Naples, FL 34109

Hours: Daily 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.


Charlotte County

Tringali Park Recreation Center

3450 North Access Road,

Englewood, FL 34224


Additional Resources for Impacted Employers

  • DEO’s Short-Time Compensation Program is a voluntary employer program designed to help employers maintain their staff by reducing the weekly working hours during temporary slowdowns instead of temporarily laying off employees. Once an employer has established a Short-Time Compensation Plan, eligible employees may apply for reemployment assistance and will receive a partial reemployment check to supplement their reduced paychecks. Learn more and apply for the Short-Time Compensation Program here.
  • Through Florida’s State Rapid Response program, Rapid Response Coordinators, provided by the state’s local workforce development boards, connect businesses and employees affected by a permanent closure, mass layoff, mass dislocation, or Trade Adjustment Assistance petition with services to prevent and minimize impacts on workers, businesses, and communities. Learn more about the State Rapid Response Program here.



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