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Mayor Kriseman talks staying home, launching the Fighting Chance Fund

Megan Holmes

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

On this episode of Chamber Coronavirus Impact Insights, Mayor Rick Kriseman joins Chris Steinocher, CEO of the St. Petersburg Chamber and Joe Hamilton, publisher of St. Pete Catalyst to talk about the importance of staying at home and how the City has sprung into motion with its new Fighting Chance Fund.

Kriseman and Steinocher both report to this Zoom meeting from their own homes, emphasizing the importance of staying home and working from home as much as possible. Kriseman says he’s glad to see most people are following the CDC, county and state guidelines. But one major issues that the City of St. Petersburg is continuing to face is residents lounging in parks.

Kriseman explains that while the city has fought to keep parks open for recreational activities like walking, biking, jogging or rollerblading, this is not the time to set up a hammock or have a picnic in the public parks. “We love that you’re getting out and getting exercise,” says Steinocher, “but this is not a social exercise.”

Many local businesses are in crisis due to the mitigation restrictions placed to slow the spread of Covid-19. Kriseman urges residents that although they may not be able to visit stores or restaurants in person, there are many ways to support businesses online or through delivery/curb-side pick-up.

“When we get on the other side of this thing,” Kriseman says. “It’s really important that we’re able to have as many business as possible able to reopen.”

That’s the impetus behind the Fighting Chance Fund, a grant program launched by the City to help businesses get back to work ASAP.

“I started thinking about how much our small businesses, our independent businesses of all kinds are really the backbone of the city. They’re the ones that give the city its identity, its feel, its culture … We have the opportunity as a city to step up for each other, to support each other,” Kriseman says.

With no guarantee as to whether the state or federal government was going to step in, the Kriseman administration began thinking about how to provide businesses and residents financial relief, and how they could pay for it. The City was able to redirect some federal FEMA funds from Hurricane Irma away from the general fund and into the Fighting Chance Fund. That, along with other funding sources, helped the City gathered together $6.8 million, which they estimate will help 800-900 business and 3000 employees of those businesses. Businesses will receive grants of $5,000 and employees will receive $500 grants.

All of the application details, required information and ways to donate to the fund can be found at http://www.stpete.org/assistance/fighting_chance_fund.php.

The first-come first-serve application for the Fighting Chance Fund goes live April 9, and Kriseman says the City is planning to process applications and turn them around to distribute funds as quickly as possible. The best thing businesses and employees can do is gather complete and accurate information to ensure their applications are turned in with all of the information requested as soon as the application formally opens. With more than 10,000 businesses in St. Pete, demand is expected to be high.

Resources: http://www.stpete.org/assistance/fighting_chance_fund.php

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