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Andrew hits business.

Hurricane Andrew, the most expensive natural disaster in the nation's history, has local black businesses struggling to rebuild and out-of-state businesses competing for new opportunities in Florida.

The damage caused by Andrew has been estimated at $30 billion. It has been reported that the storm, which packed winds of 164 mph, damaged or destroyed 85,000 Florida homes. About 250,000 of the more than 330,000 people in the affected area were left homeless. President George Bush has also pledged $543 million in hurricane-relief from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and $150 million in loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). A bill proposing an additional $7.6 billion in aid was also sent to Congress.

About 30% of the residents of Dade and Broward Counties affected by the storm are African-American. Towns such as Florida City, which had well-established, thriving black communities, have been wiped off the map. "We're going to have to totally relocate whole communities,' says Elaine Black, executive director of Miami-based Tools For Change--Black Economic Development Coalition Inc. Black says her organization, which provides technical assistance to black businesses, is also working to ensure that as many of the 200 black businesses impacted by the storm can return. She says that the promises of aid to rebuild may not help the black business community. "Many black businesses are not going to qualify for the SBA loans because of poor credit histories.'

Profiring from the state's rebuilding efforts isn't a given either. Ralph Thomas III, executive director of the National Association of Minority Contractors, says local minority contractors can contact the Dade County Department of Economic Development and the Dado County School Board for contracts, or go house-to-house trying to get work. He suggests out-of-state contractors team up with local contractors and approach the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

The Florida State Department of Labor estimates that the damage from Andrew may create as many as 7,000 construction jobs. But with fierce competition from thousands of unemployed construction workers flooding into the state, Thomas cautions that minorities may once again be shut out.
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Title Annotation:effect of Hurricane Andrew on African Americans
Author:Scott, Matthew S.
Publication:Black Enterprise
Date:Nov 1, 1992
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