- Fisher Island, a private island off the coast of Miami, applied for and got approval for a $US2 million loan to help struggling small businesses during the pandemic, The Miami Herald reported.
- On Friday, residents of the island voted to reject the funds.
- The $US2 million forgivable loan was part of the federal government’s $US349 billion Paycheck Protection Program (PPP).Many “mum-and-pop” businesses struggled to get PPP loans before the first round of funding ran out.
- The average income on Fisher Island is $US2.2 million, making it the richest ZIP code in the US.
- The island’s homeowners’ association did not immediately respond to Business Insider’s request for comment regarding how it planned to use the funds.
- Earlier this month, Fisher Island made headlines for buying 1,800 coronavirus antibody tests for its residents and staff for $US30,600.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
The homeowners’ association for Fisher Island, a private island off the coast of Miami, was approved for a $US2 million loan for small businesses – but its wealthy residents ultimately voted to turn down the funds, Aaron Leibowitz reported for The Miami Herald.
Fisher Island, a 216-acre members-only island off the coast of Miami, is home to 800 families with an average income of $US2.2 million, making it the wealthiest ZIP code in the US.
To live there, members pay a one-time fee of $US250,000 and annual dues of $US20,651 to the Fisher Island Club – and that’s on top of buying a multimillion-dollar condo. The average home value on the island is $US3 million.
The Fisher Island Community Association (FICA) was approved for a $US2 million forgivable loan from the Paycheck Protection Program, a $US349 billion fund of federally-backed loans to help small businesses. FICA oversees the island’s ferry system, administration and human resources, public safety, and landscaping, according to its website. The association did not immediately respond to Business Insider’s request for comment regarding how it had planned to use the funds it had applied for.
Other businesses on the island, operated by the Fisher Island Club, the island’s membership arm, include a spa, a market, a medical clinic, a car wash, a dry cleaning company, and guest villas. Of the island’s six restaurants, one has closed and five are open for takeout or delivery.
After island residents voted against taking the loan, FICA’s board of directors voted unanimously to turn down the $US2 million, according to the Herald.
But while an island of millionaires got approval for a $US2 million loan, small businesses across the US struggled to receive their share of government aid. The Paycheck Protection Program, a $US349 fund of federally-backed loans meant to help small businesses, was depleted in just 12 days. As Business Insider previously reported, large companies seemed to get priority for the loans. And 134 publicly traded companies received more than $US500 million from the pool, including Shake Shack and Ruth’s Chris Steak House, both of which later promised to return their funds.
Meanwhile, most “mum-and-pop” businesses usually associated with the moniker of “small business” weren’t able to get loans before the funding ran out.
On Friday, President Donald Trump signed into law an expansion of the Paycheck Protection Program that will distribute an additional $US310 billion in small business loans.
Fisher Island resident Matt Barnes told local news station WPLG that small businesses needed the money more than Fisher Island.
“We need to make sure that they get the money as quickly as possible. I don’t think Fisher Island needs $US2 million,” Barnes told the station.
Elena Bluntzer, a real-estate agent who lives on the island, shared similar sentiments.
“I’d like to see more money go to the small businesses: restaurants, nursing homes, health care providers …. who depend on coming in contact with people daily for their livelihood,” Bluntzer told Business Insider.
Fisher Island made headlines earlier this month when the Miami Herald reported that the island had purchased thousands of antibody-detecting rapid blood tests from the University of Miami Health System (UHealth) – enough to test all 800 families and 400 employees on the island. Meanwhile, the rest of the country struggled to obtain any tests at all.