First Lady Casey DeSantis Announces Private-Sector Support for Floridians Impacted by Hurricane Ian and Awards $2.1 Million to Accelerate Recovery Efforts 

Press Release from the Office of Governor Ron DeSantis

For Immediate Release: February 3, 2023

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Today, First Lady Casey DeSantis met with individuals impacted by Hurricane Ian and awarded funding through the Florida Disaster Fund to non-profits and faith-based organizations that have supported Floridians impacted by Hurricane Ian. While in Fort Myers, the First Lady announced the donations of hundreds of commodities that will be used to help Floridians get back on their feet. These donations are from numerous private-sector partners, including Home Depot, Lowe’s and Walmart, and include a donation of 1,216 doors from the Masonite Company, which will be used to replace doors in homes damaged by the storm. First Lady Casey DeSantis also announced an increased award amount for verified non-profit organizations to conduct critical repairs on homes damaged by Hurricane Ian by including an additional $1 million. This will allow the state-facilitated home repair program to raise its per-household award cap from $10,000 to $25,000, enabling impacted Floridians to make more significant home repairs. To request a door, home repairs or resources to fulfill another need, Floridians impacted by Hurricane Ian can visit the Unite Florida Portal, input their current needs, and will be connected with available resources.

In addition, First Lady DeSantis announced awards of more than $2.1 million through the Florida Disaster Fund to support the efforts of non-profit and faith-based organizations as they help impacted Floridians recover from Hurricane Ian. These awards include:

  • $1.7 million to support 17 Long-Term Recovery Groups that have formed to support the long-term recovery of Southwest Florida. These groups will help Floridians navigate available recovery resources and meet unmet needs.
  • $427,500 to Adventist Community Services. This funding supports the efforts of the organization to connect available commodities and building supplies with Floridians in need and other non-profit organizations engaged in construction efforts.

“As a mama, I know how important it is to know your children have a bed to sleep in every night, which is why I was honored to award funding that will support long-term recovery in Southwest Florida. I am also appreciative of our private-sector partners who donated hundreds of mattresses, sheets, building supply items and doors that will help make so many families feel like they have a home again. The people of Southwest Florida are so resilient, and we will continue to seek out meaningful ways to make their recovery easier,” said First Lady Casey DeSantis. “We are so appreciative of the outpouring of support that our private-sector and non-profit partners have shown Floridians following Hurricane Ian.”

Today’s announcements build on efforts spearheaded by the First Lady to harness private-sector philanthropy and generosity from people across the country to support the recovery of Southwest Florida after the devastating impacts of Hurricane Ian. Through the First Lady’s efforts, the Florida Disaster Fund has raised more than $64 million to support recovery efforts. Funding has gone to support a wide variety of recovery endeavors, including supporting home-building organizations, teachers, first responders and non-profits working in the area.

At the event, several Floridians who have benefited from the Florida Disaster Fund shared their stories. Click here to view their testimonials, which can be used courtesy of Governor DeSantis’ Press Office.

The Florida Disaster Fund is the state of Florida’s official private fund established to assist Florida’s communities as they respond to and recover during times of emergency or disaster. To donate, visit or text DISASTER to 20222. Donations to the Florida Disaster Fund are made to the Volunteer Florida Foundation, a 501(c)(3) organization, and are tax deductible.



Hotels Continue to Recover in 2023 as Industry Begins New Era of Operations

REPORT: Hotels Continue to Recover in 2023 as Industry Begins New Era of Operations

2023 AHLA State of the Industry forecasts opportunities, challenges

Download the report here

WASHINGTON (Jan. 30, 2023)The hotel industry in 2023 is projected to surpass pre-pandemic levels of demand, nominal room revenue and state and local tax revenue, while inching closer to other key 2019 performance metrics, according to the American Hotel & Lodging Association’s 2023 State of the Hotel Industry Report.

The report, which forecasts that operational challenges such as staffing shortages and economic factors will replace COVID as hoteliers’ top concerns, is based on data and analysis from Oxford Economics and was created in collaboration with AHLA Platinum Partners STR, Avendra, Ecolab, Encore, and Oracle.

The top findings of the report include:

  • 2023 nominal room revenue is projected to reach new heights ($197.48 billion vs. $170.35 billion in 2019). While these numbers are not adjusted for inflation, and real revenue recovery will likely take several more years, the trendlines are positive.
  • 2023 room-night demand is projected to surpass pre-pandemic levels (1.3 billion occupied room nights vs. 1.29 billion in 2019).
  • Hotels are expected to generate $46.71 billion in state and local tax revenue in 2023, up from $41.11 billion in 2019.
  • Average hotel occupancy is expected to reach 63.8% in 2023 – just shy of 2019’s 65.9%.
  • Staffing is expected to remain a significant challenge for U.S. hotels in 2023, with hotels projected to employ 2.09 million people in 2023, down from 2.35 million in 2019.
  • Inflation for a number of hospitality-related products will continue to run 5% to upwards of 10% for the next few quarters, according to AHLA Platinum Partner Avendra.
  • Group business has a bright future: AHLA Platinum Partner Encore reports that 70% of planners surveyed for the company’s Fall 2022 Planner Pulse Report were either booking or actively sourcing new events, and 61% expected to have larger budgets in 2023.

“Three years after the unprecedented hardships our industry faced due to the pandemic, hotels continue to make significant strides toward recovery,” said AHLA President & CEO Chip Rogers. “2022 saw one of the strongest summer travel seasons ever, and this year we expect hotels to reach new heights in terms of room revenue, room-night demand and state and local tax revenue. But when inflation is taken into account, our industry likely won’t see full recovery for several more years. Nevertheless, hotel performance is trending in the right direction – great news for our industry and our employees, who are enjoying better pay, more career opportunities, upward mobility and flexibility than ever before.”

To help hotels fill open jobs and raise awareness of the hotel industry’s 200+ career pathways, the AHLA Foundation’s “A Place to Stay” multi-channel advertising campaign is now active in 14 cities, including Atlanta, Baltimore, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, Nashville, New York, Orlando, Phoenix, San Diego, and Tampa. For more info on the campaign, visit

Additionally, AHLA affiliate “Hospitality is Working” recently launched the Workforce & Immigration Initiative. The effort is aimed at urging Congress to address workforce shortages with bipartisan solutions to incorporate more immigrants into the American economy. You can learn more about the effort here.

Download the full State of the Industry report here.


About AHLA

The American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA) is the largest hotel association in America, representing more than 30,000 members from all segments of the industry nationwide – including iconic global brands, 80% of all franchised hotels and the 16 largest hotel companies in the U.S. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., AHLA focuses on strategic advocacy, communications support, and workforce development programs to move the industry forward. Learn more at



Florida DEO launches $142M program for small businesses. Here’s everything you need to know.

South Florida Business Journal
By   –  Digital Producer, South Florida Business Journal
Jan 25, 2023

The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity announced today that $142 million in new capital is available for small businesses and startups through Florida’s State Small Business Credit Initiative (SSBCI).

Eligible companies must be Florida-based and have 750 employees or less, according to the DEO news release.

The initiative is administered by the DEO in partnership with Enterprise Florida. It has five programs to serve small businesses that may not otherwise have access to the capital needed to grow their businesses, including very small businesses and sole proprietors.

Funding through Florida’s SSBCI programs may be used to fund startup costs, business procurement, franchise fees, equipment, inventory and the purchase, construction, renovation, or tenant improvements of an eligible place of business.

“[The] program connects Florida’s small businesses with opportunities for new capital that they may not otherwise be able to access,” said DEO Acting Secretary Meredith Ivey. “DEO is proud to support the Governor’s mission by enabling local lenders to put funds into the hands of deserving small business owners in underserved communities and stimulate their local economies.”

In September, the DEO announced the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s approval of the state’s SSBCI application for $488 million. Funding is available from the U.S. Treasury in three payments, and the first funds totalling $142 million is ready for deployment, the DEO said.

“Enterprise Florida is proud to partner with DEO to provide Florida’s small businesses with the resources they need to succeed,” said Florida Deputy Secretary of Commerce Laura DiBella. “Florida’s small businesses are the heartbeat of our communities and are crucial to our state’s success, and we are honored to continue supporting them through Florida’s SSBCI program.”

Enterprise Florida (EFI), the state’s lead commerce agency, helps foster economic development by promoting Florida as a premier business destination and aiding with the state’s private-sector job creation efforts:

The five programs for funding through the SSBCI are:

  • Collateral Support Program – Enables financing that might otherwise be unavailable due to a collateral shortfall. This credit enhancement uses public resources to encourage private lenders to lend money to businesses by providing a cash deposit as collateral for a business loan or credit facility.
  • Venture Capital Program – Targeted investment strategy to attract capable investment managers to support Florida small businesses and create value. DEO will work with Enterprise Florida to secure partnerships with public entities and investment managers.
  • Loan Participation Program – SSBCI funds are used alongside private funds to support a loan to a borrower. The SSBCI funds may be used as a companion loan, or to purchase a portion of the loan made by the private lender.
  • Loan Guarantee Program – Provides a private lender with a short-term, partial guarantee to support a loan or line-of-credit for eligible small businesses.
  • Capital Access Program – A pooled loan insurance program where a private lender originates a loan, and the borrower and lender contribute a percentage of the loan per eligible small business, which is then matched by SSBCI funding.

Visit Lauderdale in partnership with FRLA Broward to Celebrate National Travel and Tourism Week at Together We Shine Tourism Luncheon on May 11

~Nominations accepted until January 30 for newly renamed The Laudables Awards recognizing exceptional hospitality workers in Greater Fort Lauderdale!


GREATER FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (January 19, 2023) –  Visit Lauderdale is calling for nomination submissions by Monday, January 30 to recognize the most “laudable” Greater Fort Lauderdale hospitality industry team members who provide exceptional service and experiences for visitors.

“Our hospitality industry team members are truly exceptional and make Greater Fort Lauderdale the most welcoming destination in the world,” says Stacy Ritter, president and CEO of Visit Lauderdale. “We appreciate their daily efforts in helping us greet everyone under the sun with warm and gracious hospitality and look forward to celebrating their contributions. We want everyone in the industry and beyond to know how incredibly proud we are of these dedicated individuals who go above and beyond to create memorable experiences for our all.

From hoteliers and tour guides to food servers, event managers, housekeepers and everyone else who plays a vital role in creating spectacular visitor experiences, Greater Fort Lauderdale will celebrate the contributions of exemplary individuals at the Together We Shine Tourism Luncheon scheduled for Thursday, May 11 at the newly expanded Greater Fort Lauderdale/Broward County Convention Center during National Travel and Tourism Week.

“FRLA Broward is thrilled to partner with Visit Lauderdale in recognition of our everyday hospitality heroes and to foster future tourism and hospitality leaders for our great destination,” says Rozeta Mahboubi, FRLA Broward Regional Director. “Creating a pipeline of next generation award-winning professionals is one our top priorities.”

Previously known as the SUNsational Service Courtesy Awards, The Laudables Awards will honor hospitality industry excellence in the following categories:

  1. The Laudables Hospitality Award for excellence in any facet of the hospitality industry
  2. The Laudables Rising Star Award for an up-and-coming star in the hospitality industry
  3. The Laudables Lifetime Achievement Award, as the ultimate thank you for a hospitality career distinguished by commitment and service


Here’s what to know about submitting a nomination:

  1. To nominate an outstanding individual in the hospitality industry, please visit
  2. Nominations must be submitted by January 30, 2023.
  3. To show appreciation of the honorees by donating experiences such a weekend stay, attraction tickets or dinner for two, please email


About Greater Fort Lauderdale

Greater Fort Lauderdale boasts an average year-round temperature of 77˚F and has 3,000+ hours of annual sunshine and is known as the Venice of America and Yachting Capital of the World. Explore 4,000+ eateries, 300+ miles of navigable waterways, eight distinct beaches, a thriving arts and culture scene, craft breweries, rooftop bars, diving, fishing and other outdoor adventures, world class shopping and boats, yachts and superyachts moored at the area’s many marinas – all conveniently located in the center of South Florida. Made up of 31 municipalities, the destination boasts more than 37,000 lodging accommodations at a variety of hotels, luxury spa resorts and boutique properties, reflecting a cosmopolitan vibe. Upon arrival at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (FLL), it is just five minutes to the beach, Port Everglades, the Greater Fort Lauderdale/Broward County Convention Center and downtown. Find trip planning inspiration at and follow @VisitLauderdale on FacebookInstagramTwitter and YouTube.


About Visit Lauderdale
Visit Lauderdale is the official destination marketing organization for Greater Fort Lauderdale and serves as the tourism department for Broward County, Florida. Visit Lauderdale promotes the area’s 31 municipalities to a global audience of leisure and business travelers as the ideal place for Everyone Under the Sun in recognition of the area’s diverse and welcoming vibe, and books conventions into the Greater Fort Lauderdale/Broward County Convention Center and area hotels and resorts.



Media Contacts:

Ivonne MacMillan
Visit Lauderdale or 954-767-2408


Diana Hanford or 561-309-4136


Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association (FRLA) Announces 2023 Board of Directors Executive Committee

TALLAHASSEE – Today, the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association (FRLA) announced the installation of its 2023 Board of Directors Executive Committee, which includes veteran industry leaders with nearly 230 years of combined experience in hospitality. As Florida’s premier non-profit hospitality trade association, FRLA has provided unmatched service to the industry and its members for more than 75 years. The mission of FRLA is to protect, educate, and promote Florida’s hospitality industry – a nearly $112 billion industry with more than one million employees.

FRLA’s 2023 Board of Directors Executive Committee is comprised of the following:

  • Vice Chair: Roger Amidon, General Manager for Palm Beach Marriott Singer Island Beach Resort & Spa
  • Secretary/Treasurer and Restaurant Director: Nick Sarra, Chief Operating Officer, Saltwater Restaurants, Inc., Destin
  • Lodging Director: Barbara Bowden, Area Managing Director for Loews Hotels at Universal Orlando
  • Restaurant Director: Henry Delgado, Managing Partner, Smith & Wollensky Restaurant Group, Miami Beach
  • Lodging Director: Lisa Lombardo, Chief Culture and Strategy Officer, HDG Hotels, Ocala
  • Immediate Past Chair: Olivia Hoblit, Regional Manager for Innisfree Hotels, Amelia Island

“The 2023 FRLA Board of Directors Executive Committee is one of our strongest ever,” said Carol Dover, President and CEO of the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association (FRLA). “With more than two centuries’ worth of combined experience, we value the wisdom and guidance of these industry icons as we work to build on our industry’s incredible growth this year. In the face of uncertain economic times, historic food prices, and labor challenges, we need dedicated and passionate industry leaders who are innovative thinkers to get engaged. John Horne is a true visionary with such a warm and big personality who thrives in this wonderful ‘people business’ we all love, and we are thrilled to have him as our new Chair.”

“It’s an incredible honor to lead the FRLA Board of Directors, and I am looking forward to an outstanding year,” said John Horne, Board Chair for the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association (FRLA). “Hospitality is the greatest industry in Florida, and it is our collective priority to keep it that way through our statewide and federal advocacy, as well as our commitment to make a difference in our local communities. We’re in the business of helping our guests have memorable experiences and ensuring that Florida remains the greatest place to live, work, and have FUN!”

For full biographies for the FRLA Board of Directors, please click here.


About FRLA: The Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association (FRLA) is Florida’s premier non-profit hospitality industry trade association. Founded in 1946 as the Florida Restaurant Association, FRLA merged with the Florida Hotel and Motel Association in 2006. FRLA’s more than 10,000 members include independent hoteliers and restaurateurs, household name franchises, theme parks and suppliers. The association’s mission is to protect, educate and promote Florida’s nearly $112 billion hospitality industry which represents 1.5 million employees. Dedicated to safeguarding the needs of the membership, FRLA provides legislative advocacy to ensure the voices of its members are heard and their interests are protected. The association offers regulatory compliance and food safety training through Safe Staff® and FRLA’s subsidiary, RCS Training. The FRLA Educational Foundation provides industry-developed, career-building high school programs throughout the state.

VISIT FLORIDA Highlights Incredible Year for Florida Tourism

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Today, VISIT FLORIDA highlighted an amazing year for Florida’s tourism industry driven by the efforts of the state’s official tourism marketing corporation. Throughout 2022, VISIT FLORIDA’s marketing initiatives – initiatives that are frequently done in collaborative partnership with local and regional tourism industry partners throughout Florida – have consistently yielded record-breaking visitation growth, and reinforced Florida’s position as one of the top vacation destinations in the world. “Florida tourism continues to reach new heights thanks to VISIT FLORIDA’s strategic marketing initiatives in tandem with the initiatives of our tourism partners throughout the state,” said VISIT FLORIDA President and CEO Dana Young. “Quarter after quarter, our vacation message has clearly resonated with travelers far and wide, and delivered record-breaking results on behalf of all Floridians. We appreciate Governor Ron DeSantis’ support and leadership that have helped get us here today, and are looking forward to leading Florida’s No. 1 industry to even more success in 2023.”

2022 Highlights:

  • Following the devastating impact of Hurricane Ian, VISIT FLORIDA launched a multi-million-dollar marketing plan in partnership with communities throughout Florida to promote tourism to the state to ensure a full recovery from the storm. The multi-phased campaign includes an initial effort showing that Florida is open for business, as well as a comprehensive recovery package for the areas of the state that were most severely impacted by the storm.
  • Conducted the annual Winter Sunseekers Campaign to reinforce Florida’s position as a top winter vacation destination. The campaign delivered over 1 billion impressions and those exposed to its advertising were nearly 3 times more likely to travel to Florida.
  • Hosted Florida Huddle (serving the international travel trade industry) and Florida Encounter (serving the meetings and events industry) simultaneously for the first time ever in Tampa, FL. Together, the events were attended by more than 600 registrants, representing 24 countries and over 7,500 appointments.
  • Partnered with the Adventure Travel Trade Association (ATTA) to help promote Florida’s Rural Areas of Opportunity (RAOs). Efforts included a two-module, in-person adventure training program for local tourism suppliers, and a new Unexplored Florida webpage on
  • Awarded the distinction of International Destination Guest of Honor at the ANATO Tourist Showcase in Bogota, Colombia—the first state to ever receive this designation in the event’s history.
  • Led multi-city mission trips to Mexico and Brazil to further foster Florida’s presence among Latin American travelers – which encompassed eight of Florida’s top 10 international origin markets in 2021.
  • Executed the annual Families campaign to further solidify Florida as the top destination for family travelers. Targeting a variety of markets across the U.S., the campaign resulted in over 970 million impressions among potential travelers.
  • Attended the U.S. Travel Association’s IPW (International Pow Wow) in Orlando, participating in nearly 400 trade appointments and media interviews over three days. VISIT FLORIDA collaborated with Visit Orlando on several events spotlighting Florida as the host state for the event, and conducted 6 post-show Group Familiarization Trips (FAMs.)
  • Executed a total of 15 domestic and international campaigns with Expedia. The campaigns resulted in 2.2 million air tickets, 2.4 million room nights, 1.3 million vacation rental nights, 5.3 million passengers, and nearly $517 million in total gross bookings.
  • Created a culinary hub on and produced 22 “You’ve Got To Try This: Chef’s Edition” videos. Highlighting the unique restaurants, cuisines, and chefs across the state, the programming showcased the wide spectrum of Florida’s culinary offerings to potential travelers.
  • Florida grew its market share of overseas visitors by 21 percent, surpassing New York as the #1 destination in America for the first time since 2001.
  • Partnered with Michelin, Visit Orlando, Visit Tampa Bay and the Greater Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau to announce the launch of the MICHELIN Guide in Florida.
  • Hosted the 2022 Florida Governor’s Conference on Tourism in Boca Raton, FL. Over 800 tourism professionals and stakeholders attended the event, representing GC’s highest participation since 2016.
  • From January through September, Florida welcomed 104.5 million travelers, an increase of 4.1 percent from the same period in 2019, and over 15.3 percent more than in 2021.
  • Launched its 2022 Adventure Travel campaign to showcase Florida’s wealth of outdoor experiences and grow the state’s reputation as a leading adventure travel destination.

U.S. Small Business Administration to Offer Disaster Loans with No Interest and No Payments for First Year

WASHINGTON – Today, Administrator Isabella Casillas Guzman, head of the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) and the voice in President Biden’s Cabinet for America’s 33 million small businesses, announced the Agency will waive the interest rate for the first year on new disaster loans and extend the initial payment deferment period automatically to 12 months.

“We must ensure that communities struck by disaster have the help they need to recover in the wake of natural disasters, and the Biden-Harris Administration is 100 percent focused on finding more ways to assist,” said Administrator Isabella Casillas Guzman. “Our zero-interest disaster loan and payment deferral solutions add new tools to our toolbox to help small business owners gain flexibility as they work to invest, reopen, and get back to business. Disaster-impacted residents in Florida, Puerto Rico, and others facing disaster can count on the SBA to help in any way it can in the days and months ahead.”

New disaster loan borrowers will now have up to one year from the date of the note to begin making payments, instead of the standard five months. Interest on the loan will not begin to accrue until 12 months from the date of the initial loan disbursement. Previously, interest begins to accrue on all disbursed loan funds including during the initial payment deferment period. Today’s announcement will benefit disaster survivors and help them to decrease the overall cost of recovery by setting the interest rate to 0% for the first 12 months and reducing the overall amount of accrued interest they must repay.
SBA disaster loans offer individuals and businesses direct access to affordable financial assistance to help fully repair or replace disaster-damaged property. By offering affordable loans with no interest and no payments for the first year, and low fixed-interest rates for the remaining 30-year term, SBA is maximizing disaster survivors’ likelihood of a successful recovery and minimizing further financial hardship.

The extended deferment to 12 months is automatic and loan borrowers do not need to take any additional action. There is no prepayment penalty and borrowers can begin making loan payments during the deferment period if they choose.

The change is effective for all disaster loans approved in response to a disaster declared on or after September 21, 2022, through September 30, 2023. The effective date covers SBA disaster loans currently available for Hurricane Fiona and Hurricane Ian declared earlier this year. SBA

does not have the authority to forgive interest that has already accrued on disbursed loan funds.
Borrowers who already received a loan for a disaster declared after the September 21 effective date will also receive an automatic extension of their first payment due date to 12 months and 0% interest. SBA will notify eligible borrowers of their loan modification and they will not need to submit a request to receive this automatic benefit.

As of December 5, 2022, SBA has approved $1.2 billion for residents and businesses impacted by Hurricanes Fiona and Ian.

About SBA Disaster Loans
Businesses and private nonprofit organizations of any size may borrow up to $2 million to repair or replace disaster-damaged or destroyed real estate, machinery and equipment, inventory, and other business assets. For small businesses, small agricultural cooperatives, small businesses engaged in aquaculture, and most private nonprofit organizations, the SBA offers Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDLs) to help meet working capital needs caused by the disaster. Economic Injury Disaster Loan assistance is available regardless of whether the business suffered any physical property damage.
Disaster loans up to $200,000 are available to homeowners to repair or replace disaster-damaged or destroyed real estate. Homeowners and renters are eligible for up to $40,000 to repair or replace disaster-damaged or destroyed personal property.

Interest rates are zero percent for the first year and are as low as 3.04 percent for businesses, 1.875 for nonprofit organizations, and 2.188 percent for homeowners and renters, after the first year with terms up to 30 years. The initial payment is deferred automatically for 12 months from the date of the Note. Loan amounts and terms are set by the SBA and are based on each applicant’s financial condition.

Building back smarter and stronger can be an effective recovery tool for future disasters, and President Biden has made climate preparedness and adaptation a priority for his Administration. SBA encourages applicants to consider mitigation measures that may reduce future disaster damages. Applicants may be eligible for a loan increase up to 20 percent of their verified physical damages for mitigation purposes. Eligible mitigation improvements may include a safe room or storm shelter, sump pump, elevation, retaining walls, and landscaping to help protect property and occupants from future damage caused by a similar disaster.

SBA reviews disaster loan applicants for eligibility, satisfactory credit, and repayment ability when determining if they qualify for assistance. Applicants must have satisfactory credit, acceptable to SBA, and can afford the additional debt burden from a new disaster loan to be approved. SBA’s criteria for acceptable credit is more flexible than traditional lenders, banks, credit unions, and other financial institutions.

How to apply

To be considered for all forms of disaster assistance, applicants should register online at or download the FEMA mobile app. If online or mobile access is unavailable, applicants should call the FEMA toll-free helpline at 800-621-3362. Those who use 711-Relay or Video Relay Services should call 800-621-3362.

Applicants may apply online using the Electronic Loan Application (ELA) via SBA’s secure website at Disaster loan information and application forms may also be obtained by calling the SBA’s Customer Service Center at 800-659-2955 (if you are deaf, hard of hearing, or have a speech disability, please dial 7-1-1 to access telecommunications relay services) or by sending an email to

Loan applications can be downloaded from the SBA’s website at Completed applications should be mailed to: U.S. Small Business Administration, Processing and Disbursement Center, 14925 Kingsport Road, Fort Worth, TX 76155.

About the U.S. Small Business Administration: The U.S. Small Business Administration helps power the American dream of business ownership. As the only go-to resource and voice for small businesses backed by the strength of the federal government, the SBA empowers entrepreneurs and small business owners with the resources and support they need to start, grow, expand their businesses, or recover from a declared disaster. It delivers services through an extensive network of SBA field offices and partnerships with public and private organizations. To learn more, visit

PepsiCo and CELSIUS® Launch “Save the Shore” Program to Fund Hurricane Ian Relief and Restoration Efforts for Florida’s Iconic Coastline Businesses

Heading into the peak holiday tourism season, the brands’ combined $200,000 investment will support and drive awareness to almost 30 local businesses with funding for renovations, employee relief funds, free product and more

ORLANDO, Fla.Dec. 2, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — More than two months after Hurricane Ian made landfall in Florida, local businesses across the state are still struggling to reopen and welcome customers once again. To support these rebuilding efforts, PepsiCo and CELSIUS® are coming together to give back to Florida communities and local economies with its “Save the Shore” program, supporting nearly 30 local Florida businesses reliant on tourism in their path to reopening.

Acknowledging the loss that will come from being closed during the start of peak holiday tourism season, PepsiCo and CELSIUS® will fund employee relief and restoration efforts of three local iconic Florida businesses – Crabby Joe’s Deck & Grill in Daytona Beach, FL, and Lani Kai Island Resort and Salty Sam’s Marina in Fort Myers Beach, FL – with a donation to the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association on behalf of each business.

“Being headquartered in Florida, it’s our responsibility to step up for the communities we serve. At PepsiCo, we took immediate action to funnel our resources to address the damage left in Hurricane Ian’s wake,” said Heather Hoytink, PepsiCo Beverages North America, President, South Division. “By joining forces with our partner CELSIUS, we’re able to expand our support of these beloved local businesses and help the people and places that make these communities thrive.”

Florida’s coastline is full of iconic businesses that play an integral role for locals and visitors alike. The ‘Save the Shore’ initiative especially hits close to home with our brand being based in South Florida. With our partnership with PepsiCo for the ‘Save the Shore’ initiative, we hope to alleviate some of the stress for these business owners by helping their establishments get back on track, giving employees relief, and revitalizing the region for the new year,” said CELSIUS® Director of Human Resources & Administration Danielle Babich.

“We are so thankful to our wonderful partners at PepsiCo and CELSIUS for their generous donation directly to these iconic FRLA Members who were among many devastated by recent events,” said Carol Dover, President and CEO of the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association (FRLA). “These funds will help so much as our restaurants recover from Hurricanes Ian and Nicole. We are proud to be a part of this effort and will also continue to assist through the FRLA Disaster Relief Fund as we rebuild our industry.”

Along with driving awareness to the businesses, PepsiCo’s South Division will also introduce a reopening fund to provide additional local businesses with free PepsiCo products as soon as they are able to welcome back customers. In addition, PepsiCo plans to sponsor reopening parties for Crabby Joe’s Deck & Grill, Lani Kai Island Resort and Salty Sam’s Marina as well its various businesses including Parrot Key Caribbean Grill, The Original Shrimp Dock Bar & Grill, Salty Sam’s Pirate Cruise and Sight Sea-R Dolphin and Sunset Cruises. The events will honor and celebrate local first responders who played an integral role during Hurricane Ian and in the wake of its aftermath.

This is the latest in the company’s ongoing support of areas impacted by Hurricane Ian, led by its regional headquarters in Orlando. Most recently, executives from PepsiCo’s South Division headquarters joined Team Rubicon’s clean-up efforts on the ground in Fort Meade, FL, clearing the area of debris for reconstruction. In October, PepsiCo Beverages North America’s South Division and the PepsiCo Foundation supported the recovery efforts of the Salvation Army, Team Rubicon, and other local organizations to help Florida communities and PepsiCo employees impacted by the storm, providing safe accommodations, supplies, meals, water and more. The PepsiCo Foundation has also offered employees opportunities to volunteer locally, encouraging them to donate their time and resources to those in need when they are able.

About PepsiCo
PepsiCo products are enjoyed by consumers more than one billion times a day in more than 200 countries and territories around the world. PepsiCo generated more than $79 billion in net revenue in 2021, driven by a complementary beverage and convenient foods portfolio that includes Lay’s, Doritos, Cheetos, Gatorade, Pepsi-Cola, Mountain Dew, Quaker, and SodaStream. PepsiCo’s product portfolio includes a wide range of enjoyable foods and beverages, including many iconic brands that generate more than $1 billion each in estimated annual retail sales.

Guiding PepsiCo is our vision to Be the Global Leader in Beverages and Convenient Foods by Winning with PepsiCo Positive (pep+). pep+ is our strategic end-to-end transformation that puts sustainability and human capital at the center of how we will create value and growth by operating within planetary boundaries and inspiring positive change for planet and people. For more information, visit, and follow on TwitterInstagramFacebook, and LinkedIn @PepsiCo.

About CELSIUS® Holdings, Inc.
CELSIUS Holdings, Inc. (Nasdaq: CELH), is a global consumer packaged goods company with a proprietary, clinically proven formula. A lifestyle energy drink born in fitness and a pioneer in the rapidly growing energy category. CELSIUS energy drinks offer proprietary, functional, essential energy formulas clinically-proven to offer significant health benefits to its users. CELSIUS energy drinks are backed by six university studies that were published in peer-reviewed journals validating the unique benefits provided by them. For more information, please visit: and

SOURCE PepsiCo Beverages North America

DBPR Issues Emergency Order Providing License Renewal Relief to Food and Lodging Operators

On November 22, 2022, Secretary Griffin signed DBPR Emergency Order 2022-08, bringing license renewal relief to all food and lodging operators located in the District 7 Fort Myer’s District with a license expiration date of December 1, 2022.  In summary, Emergency Order 2022-08 renews various provisions of DBPR’s previous emergency orders and extends the existing license renewal deadline for District 7 public food service and public lodging establishment licenses in the following counties from December 1, 2022 to January 20, 2023:













News: US visitors boost Florida tourism industry

By Jim Turner, News Service of Florida

U.S. visitors continued to drive Florida’s tourism industry at a record pace, while international travel still struggled to reach pre-pandemic levels, according to newly released figures for the third quarter of 2022.

The tourism-marketing agency Visit Florida estimated Tuesday the state attracted 35.115 million travelers during the third quarter, a 6.9% increase from 2021. The estimate was also 8% above the same period of 2019, before the pandemic largely shut down the state’s crucial tourism industry.

The numbers from July 1 through Sept. 30 — the fifth consecutive quarter outpacing the corresponding quarter in 2019 — indicated the industry has mostly moved past the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Tourism is the number one industry in Florida, and it is the highest contributor to general revenue of our state. So the health of our tourism economy is directly related to the health of our economy as a whole,” Visit Florida President and CEO Dana Young told TravelMole Managing Director Graham McKenzie last week while at the World Travel Market London. “Said another way, if we aren’t doing well, the economy is not going to be doing well either. And so, the more people realize that, that very important connection between tourism and prosperity, the more they are likely to realize how important the work that we do with tourism marketing is.”

The estimates did not reflect impacts from Hurricane Ian, which crashed into Southwest Florida as a Category 4 system on Sept. 28, days before the end of the quarter. But some resorts have reported layoffs as they try to recover from damage, and the hurricane could affect fourth-quarter tourism numbers.

After Ian hit, Visit Florida quickly put together a digital and social-media promotional campaign, seeded with about $2.7 million, that focused on parts of the state left unscathed by Ian.

Young didn’t discuss the Ian-related efforts with TravelMole but highlighted marketing beyond the state’s top tourism regions.

“Last year, we saw a marked increase in the number of visitors that were going to our more rural counties, so truly off the beaten path,” Young said. “In fact, in a few of our counties, we saw hotel occupancy levels increase as much as 25% year over year.”

The public-private Visit Florida is backed this year by $50 million in state money for marketing.

During the first nine months of 2022, Florida drew 104.375 million visitors, up 15.3%over the first three quarters of 2021 and 4.1% higher than at the same point in 2019, according to the Visit Florida numbers. For all of 2019, the state attracted a record 131.07 million travelers.

The state drew 97.752 million U.S. visitors during the first nine months of 2022, including 32.645 million in the third quarter. By comparison, the state drew 90.05 million U.S. visitors during the first nine months of 2019, including 29.295 million in the third quarter of that year.

The state initially focused on reviving domestic travel after the initial hit from Covid-19 in 2020. Numbers didn’t start to surpass pre-pandemic levels until the middle of 2021.

Meanwhile, Florida drew an estimated 5.002 million overseas travelers during the first three quarters of this year, down 30% from the same period in 2019. Also, Florida drew 1.62 million Canadian visitors through Sept. 30 this year, nearly 46% below the 2019 total.

Young told TravelMole she didn’t expect global inflation or the devalued British pound to further hurt the state’s efforts to attract international visitors.

“What we are seeing is that people still want to escape all of that, and they are still planning vacations,” Young said. “And by and large, they are planning vacations to Florida. So, we are not seeing an impact from the negative economic situation around the world on the people that are actually planning a trip to Florida.”

Florida got a boost in June when the Biden administration lifted a requirement that international travelers test negative for COVID-19 within a day of boarding flights to the United States. The ban was one of the last remaining government mandates designed to contain the spread of the coronavirus.

But the 1.931 million overseas travelers in the third quarter was off 22.8% from 2019. Also, the 539,000 Canadians who traveled to Florida during this year’s third quarter was down from 703,000 during the same period in 2019.