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Economic Development head expects Pinellas CARES dollars to help all eligible businesses

Megan Holmes

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The St. Petersburg Chamber of Commerce presents: Coronavirus Impact Insights.

On this episode, Mike Meidel, Director of Pinellas County Economic Development joins Chris Steinocher, CEO of the St. Petersburg Chamber and Joe Hamilton, publisher of St. Pete Catalyst to talk about Pinellas CARES, a local effort to allocate federal funds from the CARES Act to small businesses within Pinellas County.

The Pinellas County Board of Commissioners approved a plan to help local small businesses survive the Covid-19 pandemic Tuesday afternoon. Meidel says he expects that the $35 million funds set aside for small businesses, which came from a $170 million allocation of federal dollars for Pinellas County Covid-19 relief efforts, should be enough to fund every eligible business in the county – up to 6,500.

Applications for the $5,000 grant program will be available Monday, but preliminary information provided by the county suggests similar requirements to second round of the city of St. Petersburg’s Fighting Chance Fund.

A business must have 25 full-time equivalent employees (it can have more if their hours equal 25 or less full-time employees), it must prove it has been in existence for six months, starting Oct.1, and that it was still operating Feb. 29. It must be able to prove that it was impacted by Covid-19 and that it fully plans to reopen after the pandemic. Businesses must also occupy commercial space. Home-based businesses will not be eligible to receive funds from this program.

Industry sectors covered by the county program are all those required to close under Governor DeSantis or the Board of County Commissioners’ Safer at Home orders, as well as impacted restaurants, food trucks and places of assembly.

There’s no need to rush applications in, Meidel says, because the county believes it will have enough funding for every eligible business. Instead, Meidel says businesses should focus on getting the application right and including all of the required documentation. He expects that once all of the required documents are gathered, applications should take just 10-15 minutes to put together. He expects his team will likely be able to turn around a standard application in around 10 days.

For more details on individual and small business aid, read Finance Editor Margie Manning’s full story on the county programs. 

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