Their initial conclusion: Things are getting worse.
Although BP has written some checks to cover losses and has pumped money into the economy by hiring cleanup crews and “vessels of opportunity,” this money targets a relatively small group. The larger tourism economy has received little of this relief.
When speaking of the tourism economy, it’s natural to think of condos sitting empty, restaurants without patrons and specialty shops without customers, but that merely scrapes the surface. Like any vibrant economy, the one on the Gulf Coast has many layers. Construction, real estate, commercial development, boating — we could go on.
Then there are the dreams. The Gulf Coast has long been the home of risk-takers, entrepreneurs and people with ideas and energy who come down seeking opportunity. Many find it.
These people build businesses, create jobs, satisfy customers and make the Gulf Coast what it is — the playground for people all around the region.
They keep coming up with something new. They keep the Coast an exciting place to visit. And they are in trouble. The Great Recession and the oil spill have been a double hit.
Finally, BP has announced that money for the $20 billion escrow fund that will be used to compensate businesses for their losses will be “in the bank” by mid-August. For some, this will be too late.
When fund administrator Ken Feinberg calculates the losses along the Coast, how will he calculate lost dreams?
Those may be the biggest losses of all.