Private island for multimillionaires given $2m government loan intended to help struggling small businesses

Sirena Bergman@SirenaBergman
Sunday 26 April 2020 11:30
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Fisher Island may sound like a quaint little working-class enclave, but in reality it's anything but.

The man-made island is just three miles from Miami but isn't connected to the Florida landmass and can only be accessed by boat or helicopter.

It gets its name from Carl G. Fisher, a real estate developer who once owned it. Its current residents however have more recognisable names, and include Hasbro CEO Alan Hassenfeld, who owns an $8.2m condo, tennis pro Caroline Wozniacki and her fiance former NBA player David Lee, whose condo set them back $13.5m. Former residents include Oprah Winfrey and Mel Brooks.

Needless to say, this particular private island isn't exactly a modest abode. In 2015, it had the highest per capita income of anywhere in the United States.

Fisher Island made headlines earlier this month, when it was revealed that it had bought 1,800 of Covid-19 tests from the University of Miami for all of its staff and residents, costing $30,600. The decision was criticised given a shortage of testing nationwide.

But now it seems the backlash may have got even harsher, after the residents' association has been awarded a $2m loan as part of a federal programme intended to help small businesses during the coronavirus pandemic.

The average annual income of the island's residents is reportedly $2.5m.

The association applied for government's Paycheck Protection Program on 4 April, reports the Miami Herald, and it was awarded earlier this week. It is unclear what the money was intended to be used for, but under the terms of the programme it would not need to be repaid back as long as certain conditions are met, such as retaining 75 per cent of the employed staff.

However, after the news leaked, the association decided to vote on whether or not to accept the money. On Friday, they decided against it. One entrepreneur who was on the board told the New York Post:

A lot of small businesses across the country are in need of funding right now.

Fisher Island is a very wealthy community and by us declining to take the money, it’s going to help a lot of small business get the funding they need quicker. That’s important right now because our country is going through a tough time.

According to Business Insider, members of the Fisher Island Club get access to amenities like private beaches with sand imported from the Bahamas, a beach club, eight restaurants, a golf course, two deep-water marinas, a spa, and 18 tennis courts. The club costs $250,000 to join, plus an annual charge of $22,256. The average cost of a condo is $3m.

All of this is to say, these people are very very rich, and they might have considered their situation in a wider context before applying for the scheme and considering accepting the money.

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