Caroline Westervelt and Bill Rostock started Treasure Coast River Cruises to provide a different view of paradise.
“It’s to give people an opportunity to get out and see the area in a way they wouldn’t normally see it,” said Westervelt.
They opened for business March 7, were forced to close March 17 and only reopened on Memorial Day.
“We have plenty of room for social distancing between the crew and the passengers. It’s open air,” added Westervelt.
Idle for months, Westervelt was contacted by the county’s Tourism office to apply for a grant through the Martin County Business Renewal Program.
“We had to make a boat payment and there was no money coming in… or the boat insurance or the telephone bill. For those kind of things to cover those kind of things,” said Westervelt.
Martin County has about $5 million in federal CARES Act dollars to distribute.
“We estimate we have half a million to three quarter of a million in requests already,” said Assistant County Administrator George Stokus.
Stokus says the funds are for reimbursement on expenditures, not revenues.
“This help directed at those businesses that didn’t get PPP Payment Protection Plan, any of the free money that was out there,” added Stokus.
Pete Tesch, President of the Economic Development Council of St. Lucie County, says the smallest businesses can benefit from the 3-million dollars available there.
“It’s all about jobs and keeping the community and the economy working hard and afloat,” said Tesch.
Afloat, is what Caroline Westervelt is hoping to stay.
“It’s hard to write out a check when there’s nothing coming in.”
These small business grant programs are happening throughout the Treasure Coast and Okeechobee County. Grant levels and eligibility requirements differ from county to county. In Palm Beach County, the initial grant application process has been completed but could reopen if grant dollars remain after current applications are processed.