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Pinellas County small business owner helping others reopen with large shields

Posted at 6:06 AM, Apr 30, 2020

PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. — A Pinellas County small business owner is creating large protective shields to help other businesses in the community reopen.

“Right now, this time is devastating for a lot of small business owners,” said Lauren Atwaters, owner of Ten23 Designs.

She wanted to help other small businesses take preventative measures as they start to think about how to reopen.

“I started the shields about a week ago when a friend of mine who owns a nail shop needed something to hopefully be able to present to the city to show she’s taking protective measures,” said Atwaters.

These shields could work for receptionists, nail salons, cashiers and retail stores.

“They’re barriers. There’s preventative measures that we can take and the more that we take, the better we can protect ourselves and the people around us,” said Atwaters.

Atwaters says she wanted to find a way to help because this has been a devastating and challenging time for many small business owners, including herself.

“For some of us small business owners, it’s hard,” Atwaters said. “Literally, we can’t go grocery shopping. We can’t pay our rent,” she continued.

Atwaters owns a business that’s part of the event industry.

“In the event industry, a lot of us are not only not making any income right now, we are going negative because we have all of these canceled events and they want refunds,” said Atwaters.

She got denied loan money from the government’s emergency relief program for small businesses because of a miscommunication.

“The program is so flawed at the moment, and there’s no easy fix because at the end of the day to probably fix it, it will take so much time that no one’s going to get any help period,” said Atwaters.

She says she’s not the only local business that got denied funding.

“For small businesses right now, it’s already a hard time. It’s a scary time. You know we’re watching small businesses literally not just shut down their doors for this, but they’re shutting down their doors and they can’t open them back up,” said Atwaters.

She worries about the mental health of local small business owners and says it’s important that you check in on them.

“It gets very overwhelming. It’s literally like a rollercoaster,” said Atwaters.

She’s asking that you support small businesses as much as you can even if it’s just buying a gift certificate right now.

For more information on the desk shields, visit TEN23designs.com.