Verizon provides $250,000 donation to aid SMBs recovery from Hurricane Ian


A family-owned coffee shop, a floral truck and a bait and tackle business are among the 25 small businesses across southwest Florida awarded grants worth a total of $250,000, in the wake of Hurricane Ian, providing them with critical relief as recovery efforts continue.

These grants were the result of a previous donation made by Verizon to Collaboratory, a local nonprofit community-problem solving organization in Southwest Florida, and Florida TaxWatch, a trusted nonprofit organization that serves as the ‘eyes and ears’ of Florida taxpayers and promotes economic development across the state to support small businesses in times of crisis.

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“Long after the storm has passed, the devastation caused by Ian continues to unfold for small businesses, many of which lost everything and have had to start over,” said Aparna Khurjekar, Chief Revenue Officer, Business Markets and SaaS at Verizon Business. “Our hope is that the businesses receiving the grants through our partners will now have the resources they urgently need to recover.”

Hurricane Ian struck Florida as a catastrophic Category 4 storm on Sept. 28, killing over 100 people and causing damage to infrastructure, homes and other property that is estimated to exceed $50 billion. Thousands of southwest Florida small businesses were affected by the storm. Through the Verizon donation, Collaboratory and Florida TaxWatch created the $10,000 grant program.

Collaboratory and Florida TaxWatch worked with community leaders to select the final 25 small businesses from the hundreds of deserving applicants and nominees.

“We are thrilled to have received this grant as these funds will help us invest in sales channels to grow outside of Southwest Florida while our community focuses on rebuilding,” said grant recipient and CEO of Flying Eagle Kombucha, Maddy Eagle. “It will also assist us in strengthening our impact here at home, while we continue to support our local farms, community gardens, and their missions for a sustainable region.”

The full list of small business grant recipients includes:

Captain Josh Greer

Captain Ozzie Lessinger

Chocolattés Roasting, LLC

Cracker Box Restaurant

D & D Matlacha Bait &Tackle

Exclusive Affair Party Rentals

F.I.S.H of Sanibel-Captiva, Inc.

Flying Eagle Kombucha

Gannon’s Antiques & Art

Gathering House by Dwelling Place Project

Gator Lanes

FastSigns of Cape Coral

Gulf Coast Leisure LLC

Gulfshore Playhouse

Hoops on Mission

Hope Clubhouse of SWFL, Inc.

Increase the Peach, Inc.

Jesi Cason Photography

Just N Time Barber Shop

Koza Farms, Inc.

Island Vibez Grill

Ollie’s Pub – Records and Beer

Rupert’s Karate Academy

White Orchid at Oasis

Wild at Heart Flower Truck

Assisting Small Businesses with Free Learning Resources

In addition to hurricane relief efforts, Verizon is providing assistance to small businesses through Verizon Small Business Digital Ready, a free comprehensive online curriculum focused on helping small businesses with digital transformation. The portal was created with and for small businesses, with a specific focus on helping diverse and under-resourced business owners, and offers personalized learning through 30+ courses, mentorship, peer networking, 1:1 expert coaching and incentives. Spanish-language content, coaching and networking events and grant opportunities aimed at Hispanic-owned small businesses are also now available.

This initiative is part of a 10-year commitment Verizon made in 2020 to support 1M small businesses with the resources to thrive in the digital economy as part of its responsible business plan, Citizen Verizon.