Did Anyone Notice?
Hollywood Beach store owner Issac Pioj asseesses damage from Hurricane Wilma.
Wilma arrived as many businesses were still recovering from Hurricane Katrina as it made its first U.S. landfall a few weeks earlier. By late November, with the damage total reaching $9 billion in south Florida, local companies had filed more than 50,000 applications for business disaster loans from the Small Business Administration. The volume has slowed the approval process, infuriating local officials.
The pace of cleanup and recovery is only part of the story: Business insurance rates this year could skyrocket, and widespread residential damage is further thinning what was already one of the state's tightest markets for affordable housing.
But the lack of national attention may be the hurricane season's silver lining. Economic development officials say the storms' havoc barely registered with out-of-state companies considering a move here. Officials from Cincinnati-based Chiquita Brands say weather is of little concern and that Broward remains a front-runner, along with Atlanta, for its new headquarters.
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