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Seeking Businesses to Help Furloughed Defense Workers

Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce

The Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce is seeking businesses, banks and other organizations willing to extend assistance, freebies and discounts to furloughed defense workers.

So far, the chamber's Military Council has a list of a dozen financial institutions, museums, stores and restaurants with discounts or deals.

That includes the offer of a "signature loan" to furloughed federal workers by one credit union and a bank willing to give their furloughed clients one-month payment extensions.

"It's open to anyone in the business community to come, rally, help support our military community and those who work to keep us safe. It's a way to really step up and show this is important to us and remember that MacDill has such a vital impact to our national security as well as to our regional economy," said Bob Rohrlack, president and CEO at the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce.

MacDill Air Force Base is a key economic driver for the community and the chamber wants the Pentagon to understand "that we are a military friendly community and we want them to bring more here to MacDill."

The 1,500 MacDill employees furloughed Tuesday will only get half of a paycheck next week because the shutdown hit in the middle of the pay cycle and have no idea when they'll be paid again.

"Where they typically buy their goods and services on base has been shut down. So, now they're going off base and paying higher prices for their goods and services when they have less disposable income,"  Rohrlack said.

To help with discounted food, he said the Sam’s Club is waiving its membership requirements for furloughed defense workers and their families.

"Unfortunately, we have a little bit of experience doing this. We did the same thing when the sequestration hit not too long ago,” Rohrlack said.

Businesses wishing to participate in the program can contact the chamber on the website http://www.tampachamber.com/militarydiscounts or email news@tampachamber.com. Rohrlack said the site will be monitored over the weekend.

Bobbie O’Brien has been a Reporter/Producer at WUSF since 1991. She reports on general news topics in Florida and the Tampa Bay region.
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