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Workshops In Florida Aim To Help Businesses Recover Months After Hurricane Irma

Quincy J Walters
Suzanne Specht talks about what the Small Business Development Center has done to help small businesses after Hurricane Irma.

It’s been nearly five months since Hurricane Irma hit Florida. This week and next, an economic recovery workshop is traveling across the state, seeing what counties and small businesses need to help them bounce back and how to better handle the next disaster.

A lot of small businesses scramble when a hurricane is on its way. And some never reopen after the storm passes.

Suzanne Specht with the Small Business Development Center said that was the case in Florida with 

"Some businesses, they weren't doing well before the hurricane," said Specht. "So it's just compounded and unfortunately they'll go out of business."

Luckily, she said, some entrepreneurs are resilient.

"Some of them will reinvent themselves and reopen down the road," Specht said. 

She’s one of the participants in the Economic Recovery and Resiliency Workshops touring the state. Leaders believe a lot of small business owner’s hurricane-related problems can be avoided if they prepare before a disaster. For example, some business owners never accounted for the possibility of being without power for a week or for flooding making their shops inaccessible.

Greg Vaday with the Economic Development Administration said many of the Irma-damaged businesses are at the crux of Florida’s economy. These are the kind of small businesses organizers hope can participate in the weekday workshops.

"Large scale damage to the agricultural industry, large scale damage to the tourism industry," said Vaday. "So you've got large scale damage to industries which are very important to the base of Florida.

Vaday said these workshops are being done in conjunction with Florida Regional Planning Councils, Florida’s Department of Economic Opportunity and the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Dates and locations of Economic Recovery and Resiliency Workshops