Help is coming to businesses hurt by the algae crisis in Florida.
The U.S. Small Business Administration opened a Business Recovery Center to help with low interest Economic Injury Disaster Loans.
Businesses in Brevard, Broward, Charlotte, Collier, DeSoto, Glades, Hardee, Hendry, Highlands, Indian River, Lee, Martin, Miami-Dade, Monroe, Okeechobee, Osceola, Palm Beach, Polk, Saint Lucie and Sarasota all qualify for the assistance.
Fifty-four businesses from seven counties have alerted the state they have suffered some form of economic damage from toxic green algae coating waterways in parts of Florida.
The 54 businesses that have contacted the state about algae-related economic damages are involved in industries such as fishing, boating, restaurants and retail.
Half of the complaints have come from businesses in Martin County, where the outcry about the algae has been the loudest.
On June 29, Florida Governor Rick Scott issued an emergency order for Martin and St. Lucie counties because of widespread algae blooms in the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee estuaries, located on the east and west sides of Lake Okeechobee. Lee and Palm Beach counties were added the next day.
Discharges from Lake Okeechobee have contributed to the spread of algae blooms.
Gov. Scott has also said he will include in his proposed budget for next year matching-grant money for local governments to reduce the use of septic systems, which is believed to be a contributing factor affecting water conditions.
The Business Recovery Center is located at the Martin County Fairgrounds, 2616 SE Dixie Hwy, A Building, Stuart. It is open Monday thru Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.