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How Small Businesses Hurt By Coronavirus Can Get The Help They Need To Survive

Closed sign
Closed, but not hopefully forever

Small businesses that have been forced to close because of COVID-19 are getting some relief. Many Tampa Bay cities and counties are helping lend a financial hand.

St. Petersburg is starting its Fighting Chance Fund, offering emergency grants for nearly 1,000 restaurants, bars and service businesses. Applicants must meet these criteria:

  • Local owned and independently operated
  • Physically established in the city of St. Petersburg
  • Must be at least 50% locally owned by residents of St. Petersburg
  • Must be operating within the defined impacted eligible industries*
  • Have 25 employees or fewer
  • Affirm a loss of revenue due to COVID-19
  • Must be able to demonstrate working capital for business operations as of February 28

Tarpon Springs is also offering grants. In order to be eligible, businesses must meet the following criteria:

  • Be directly impacted by the public health requirements of COVID-19
  • Principal place of business must be within the incorporated city limits
  • Have 50 or fewer employees prior to March 1, 2020
  • Must demonstrate a loss in revenue and be in need of working capital to continue operations.
  • Business mush have no outstanding code enforcement fines and must have a current business tax license

Sarasota County Commissioners voted this week use more than $4 million in Economic Development Corporation funds for small businesses. It would offer loans of up to $25,000 each, which would be both interest and payment free for the first year and then repaid at an interest rate of 3.5% over the next three years.

Small businesses owners in operation with a county business license for at least three years, who have also applied for relief through the federal Paycheck Protection Program, would be eligible.

And Tampa spokeswoman Ashley Bauman says they’re readying a similar program that will announced next week to offer either loans or grants for small businesses.

The Pasco Economic Development Council has partnered with Pasco County to provide a RELIEF grant to small businesses impacted by COVID-19 funded through Penny for Pasco. The Pasco Emergency Business Grant is an emergency grant up to the amount of $5,000 to support small businesses and the local Pasco County economy.

This emergency grant is expected to provide support to 400 Pasco County small businesses. The goal of the grant program is to help offset the temporary loss of revenue and help keep small businesses open after this global pandemic.

“We know our community is hurting right now and the Pasco County Emergency Business Grant program is another tool our small businesses can use to get through the COVID-19 crisis,” said Pasco County Commission Chairman Mike Moore. “Our small businesses are the heart of Pasco County’s economy, and I look forward to their continued success in the future.”

There are limited funds available which will be distributed on a first-submitted, eligible and approved application basis. Pasco County businesses that meet the criteria below are encouraged to submit their application online as soon as possible in its entirety.

Applications are now being accepted at www.PascoEDC.com/Pasco-Grant. There is no deadline to apply. The Pasco Emergency Business Grant has $2 million available and applications will be accepted until funds are exhausted.

Here's the criteria to apply:

• Pasco registered business in operation as of March 1, 2020
• Owner must be Pasco County resident
• 1- 25 employees (Part-time and 1099 employees must be included)
• Business must have applied for Federal Disaster Loan Funding
• Business and business owner must be in good standing

Eligible grant Uses
• Rent
• Mortgage
• Utilities
• Payroll

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Steve Newborn is a WUSF reporter and producer at WUSF covering environmental issues and politics in the Tampa Bay area.
WUSF 89.7 depends on donors for the funding it takes to provide you the most trusted source of news and information here in town, across our state, and around the world. Support WUSF now by giving monthly, or make a one-time donation online.