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Trade association offers hotel and restaurant owners in Southwest Florida $10K in disaster relief after Hurricane Ian

Hospitality impact Hurricane Ian
Courtesy of Joel Silver
FRLA President and CEO Carol Dover joins team members to survey damage from Hurricane Ian in Southwest Florida.

Hospitality employers in Lee, Collier, Charlotte and Sarasota counties can apply.

On Tuesday, the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association launched a disaster relief fund designed to assist hospitality industry owners and employees after Hurricane Ian. Hotel and restaurant owners in Lee, Collier, Charlotte and Sarasota counties can apply.

Through the FRLA Educational Foundation, the industry trade association has made grants available of up to $10,000 for independent restaurants and lodging establishments, which includes hotels, motels and bed-and-breakfasts.

Eligible establishments include those owned by a corporation, limited liability partnership, general partnerships or sole proprietorship and some franchised locations. Recipients are also required to allocate at least one-third of the disaster relief funds to support their employees, according to a press release.

Carol Dover, who leads the trade association, said federal disaster relief, like Volunteer Florida and the Red Cross, is necessary after a storm like Ian, but it can also overlook industry-specific needs.

"We wanted to have something that would go immediately and specifically to the hotel and restaurant industry," she said.

Hospitality hurricane Ian
Courtesy of Joel Silver
Team members with the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association boat to survey hurricane damages near Captiva in mid-October.

Dover traveled with her team to survey damages on the ground in Southwest Florida two weeks after Ian made landfall.

"I've been down there myself," she said. "I've put boots on the ground in the last several weeks, and it's pretty devastating."

In some cases, Dover said storefronts have been completely flattened. But for business owners with real-estate that is still standing, the hurricane has amplified existing supply chain disruptions.

"One of the major problems is restaurant equipment," she said. "Even before the hurricane, you could be looking at a year or more to receive [equipment] because of all the supply challenges our country is going through. And this has just made it worse."

Gabriella Paul covers the stories of people living paycheck to paycheck in the greater Tampa Bay region for WUSF. She's also a Report for America corps member. Here’s how you can share your story with her.

I tell stories about living paycheck to paycheck for public radio at WUSF News. I’m also a corps member of Report For America, a national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms.
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