The coast is clear at Fort Myers Beach! No sign of red tide. But over the summer, many businesses struggled to keep their doors open due to the smell and fish kills.
In a 14-week period, businesses in the area lost more than $40 million combined, according to the Fort Myers Beach Chamber of Commerce. That doesn’t include employee wages — an additional $14 million loss.
Through the losses, a hopeful business continued to build with the promise of bringing 30 new jobs to the area.
“We wanted to do something really cool here. That’s why we did the tiki concept and bring the Bahamas to Fort Myers,” Liki TIki BBQ Owner Goran Stojkoski said. “During the construction we noticed it was pretty horrific down here during July and August.”
But Stojkoski decided to move forward anyway because of their great location and proximity to the Gulf.
“We feel we are going to be a very successful location,” Stojkoski said.
With the cooler temps and clear beaches, the streets are filling with people again.
“The beach is busy again,” Jackie Liszack with the Fort Myers Beach Chamber of Commerce said. “People are back out. Restaurants are full. We have traffic. So all good things.”
Jackie suggests businesses should continue to plan accordingly. “While things improve and the weather cools down and the water cools down we need to not forget that we could be back in the same situation again if we don’t start to make the changes necessary,” Liszack said.
“We hope that the red tide doesn’t come back and if it does, which it probably will, does every year, not as bad as it was this year. This year was really bad,” Stojkoski said.