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$2.1 million distributed in first round of St. Pete’s Fighting Chance Fund; more help on the way

Megan Holmes

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The City of St. Peterburg’s Covid-19 emergency relief fund, the Fighting Chance Fund, closed out the first round of its applications with 703 individual approvals of $500, and 356 business approvals of $5,000, totaling $2.1 million distributed in the first round.

According to an update last week from City Development Administrator Alan DeLisle, during the first round, the city has received approximately 1,200 business applications for Fighting Chance, and 2,067 individual applications. Based on these figures, the city approved just under 30 percent of business applications in the first round, and 34 percent of individual applications.

The second round of Fighting Chance relief launched April 30 with expanded eligibility to St. Petersburg business owners who live outside of the bounds of the city, and those who had been in business six months or more, rather than the full year required in the previous round.

The second round also added two industry sectors: travel agencies and tour operators, and clarified that individual businesses operating in another business’ space, whether a co-working or leasing space directly from another business owner can apply to the program.

To date in Round Two, the city has received 400 business application and approved 41. It has received close to 400 individual applications as well, and approved 161 of those. In total, between  both rounds thus far, the city has put $2.4 million

DeLisle said that the city has received calls from other cities across the country asking about the program and its implementation. He also said the city’s efforts continue to evolve. Difficulties with communication during the first round led to the adoption of a new system for the second round of applications, which allows the applicant to follow their application through the process and chat with the team reviewing their application in real time.

Outside of the industries that the program is designed to assist, DeLisle said that the City has received strong positive feedback from local companies who believe the relief is going to the right places. He said the city will continue to evolve and expand the fund to meet the needs of residents and businesses.

The city also announced Thursday that local entrepreneur Daniels Ikajevs donated $25,000 to the Fighting Chance Fund. In a statement, Ikajevs expressed empathy for entrepreneurs and startups experiencing hardships due to Covid-19, and explained that he wanted to help preserve and grow the local startup community.

“It’s not always easy to start and grow a business, you have to be strong and resilient, often not only for yourself, but for the many people who rely on you, be that your team, employees or your family,” Ikajevs said. “Smaller businesses, with great ideas that generally expand their grassroots operations, in many ways become the job creators and future backbones of the local economy.”

“Daniels Ikajevs has a passion for entrepreneurship,” said Mayor Rick Kriseman. “He recognizes the challenges facing our business community, especially those in the nascent stage of their operations. We recently expanded our criteria to include businesses that have been in operation for less than one year, and the contribution Daniels has made will help to ensure our funding of those businesses can continue. We are grateful for Daniels’ presence in our region and his interest in St. Pete’s success.”

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