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How your small business can apply for a relief fund in Tampa Bay area

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Posted at 11:01 PM, Apr 20, 2020

TAMPA, Fla. -- The City of Tampa's One Tampa: Relief Now, Rise Together program is preparing to start the process for businesses to seek help Tuesday.

Total Image Beauty Salon is one business planning to apply. They've been open for more than 30 years, but have never faced anything like this pandemic.

"It's been tough, as well as our tenants who lease from us," said Mona Judge, the co-owner of the salon and plaza where it sits.

She said she has her paperwork ready to go for when the pre-application process for the city's fund for businesses opens.

Due to ties to federal funding and a goal to help established businesses vulnerable to gaps in funds from state and federal resources, there are eligibility requirements. Businesses must be in a designated low-income census tract zone or in a community redevelopment area, and been an established business operated continuously for three years.

Bay Cannon Beer Company said because it's been open less than a year, it won't qualify.

"Hopefully we can continue to be in communication with our leaders and find something that works for us. We’re inside of a CRA here as our many small businesses," said its co-founder, Matthew Juaire.

The city said it's hoping to help hundreds of businesses.

"We are hoping that the CRA board on Thursday will approve the use of CRA dollars which will allow us to expand slightly out to CRA’s and have a wider footprint but that’s obviously within their discretion," said Carole Post, the administrator for the City of Tampa Development and Economic Opportunity.

The fund's application process for residents already closed. The process opened Friday at noon, but by Saturday afternoon Post said they had already reached their targeted number of 2,500 applications. She said as many as 12,000 people had initiated the process.

"I couldn't get through," said Alva Atkins.

Atkins said she had problems with the website, tried to get help, but was shut out by the time she could get back on.

"I'm hopeful they'll have another opportunity," she said.

The city is reviewing the applications against the qualifying criteria and will notify individuals within the next 10 days of the status.

"We can already see there’s a percentage of applicants who applied who are not residents of the city of Tampa so unfortunately we will not be able to provide the relief to them but what it might do is open some additional slots to let those who started the application process but we’re unable to finish it," said Post.

The city is hoping a two-step application process for businesses helps with the initial demand this go around. They must pre-apply between Tuesday and Thursday. If they meet eligibility through that process, they will then be able to apply starting Friday.

"I'm hoping that the site don't crash," said Judge, who says she also sits on the board for the East Tampa CRA.

Meanwhile, the city is asking for people who can to donate to the fund. It's already received corporate support and donations from the city's major sports teams. You can find out more information about the donation process and application process here.

In addition to Tampa, other municipalities in our viewing area have released forms and instructions on how they could apply for a small business relief fund.

ABC Action News put together a list of municipalities offering relief funds to help the small businesses in our area:

CLEARWATER

Clearwater's Save Small Businesses Fund offers grants of up to $5,000. The city says it is funded by corporate and philanthropic partners, including the U.S. Chamber of Comerce.

To apply:
The small business must be eligible and qualified based on "availability of funds, program guidelines" and submit all required information and supporting documentation.

  • The business must employ 3-20 people
  • The business must be located in "an economically vulnerable area"
  • Have been financially harmed by the pandemic.

Program has been live since Monday, April 20. Businesses in Clearwater can click here to apply.

PINELLAS PARK

Application process for a small business relief fund of up to $2,500 will launch Tuesday, April 21 at 8 a.m. for Pinellas Park.

To apply:

  • Hard copies of the application are available at the outside pickup box at the Pinellas Park Technical Services Building at 6051 78th Ave. N.
  • Hard copies of the application will have a longer process period
  • First-come, first-serve basis
  • Contact Amanda Conte, Economic Development Team, at 727-369-5619

You can click here to view or print the application form.

Post developing. Check back for updates.