Struggling business owners in Sarasota and Manatee County are receiving some red tide relief from local and state governments. Interest-free small business loans are now available. Also, tourism leaders plan to spend $500,000 and to market local beaches to the rest of the country.
“We are going to tell them that our state is open, come back,” said Visit Florida President Ken Lawson.
Bob Slicker is the manager at the Swordfish Grill in the Cortez area. He said his business is struggling.
“People think they can’t eat our food, cause they think we are getting the fish that’s on top of the water. Our group boats go out way past red tide,” said Slicker.
He plans to meet with other business owners to create a marketing plan to show tourists that the food is still safe to eat.
“We wouldn’t serve anything we wouldn’t eat ourselves,” said Slicker.
He is happy about the announcement of the loans. Slicker said business is down about 70 percent.
“I would use it to keep my employees' hours, we will find other jobs for them to do,” said Slicker.
Red tide has had a direct impact on Manatee and Sarasota County beaches for more than two weeks.