Florida Gov. Rick Scott is asking the federal government to provide long-term financial assistance for struggling Apalachicola Bay business owners. Scott wants the U.S. Small Business Administration to declare Franklin County a disaster area.
If the federal government bestows the disaster designation, business owners there would be eligible for low-interest, long-term loans. Patrick Sparks, co-owner of Eddie Teach’s Raw Bar, says he’s lost thousands of dollars per seat in his 77-seat establishment on St. George Island because of the oyster shortage.
“Customers are a little apprehensive on buying them at such a high price but also apprehensive on buying them because of a threat of the bay being shut down and what’s going on with the bay," he says.
Sparks says he’d apply for a small business loan with the hope of keeping his doors open.
“You know, you have many thousands of people that rely on the water every day, and if you take that away then you’re going to have a very, very big economic problem," he says.
If the disaster designation is granted, business owners must demonstrate their oyster-related losses to qualify for loans.