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Roundup: Airports need help, restaurants get help, and don’t forget mental health

Margie Manning

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Tampa International Airport

Today’s roundup includes news about the Tampa Bay Partnership, Tampa International Airport, St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport, Spirion, St. Petersburg Area Chamber of Commerce, University of South Florida St. Petersburg and Cope Notes.

It’s going to take a while for airports in the Tampa-St. Petersburg area to get back on their financial footings, according to the most recent Covid-19 impact report from the Tampa Bay Partnership.

Globally, commercial air travel has dropped 70 percent in the past six weeks, and March passenger counts were down 44 percent year-over-year in March at Tampa Bay airports, the report said.

March and April are among the busiest months for local airports, and the steep decline could significantly reduce airport revenue streams, the report said.

The likelihood of that revenue drop led Fitch Ratings to reclassify ratings outlooks to negative for many large airports, including Tampa International Airport.

Local airports received $113.8 million in federal funds from the CARES Act earlier this month, including $81 million for Tampa International, $8.7 million for St. Pete-Clearwater International and about $780,000 for a handful of regional and general aviation airports in the market.

But recent estimates from the International Air Transport Association indicate the recovery to pre-pandemic levels of aviation travel will be prolonged. Passengers could take months to return, the Partnership report said, citing a local consumer sentiment survey in which residents said they would likely wait months before flying on an airplane again.

Those factors suggest the need for future federal aid for airports is likely, the Partnership report said.

The local restaurant industry also has been hard hit, and there are several ongoing efforts to help out.

One program is the “This One is On Us” initiative begun by St. Petersburg tech company Spirion. Employees at the data privacy firm have been giving money out of their own paychecks for the past couple of weeks to buy meals from local eateries to give to restaurant staff. To date, they’ve raised $9,000 that has helped feed more than 800 restaurant workers and their families.

Photo by Kate Townsend on Unsplash

Now the St. Petersburg Area Chamber of Commerce has joined the effort, and the two organizations have issued a city-wide challenge for other companies to get behind it as well. Their goal is to provide 5,000 meals over the next three months.

To donate to the program, reach out to Anne Core (annecore@aol.com, 240-491-1843), Communications Coordinator, St. Petersburg Chamber of Commerce.

A separate educational initiative is coming from the Hospitality Leadership Program at University of South Florida St. Petersburg’s Kate Tiedemann College of Business.

The program hosted a webinar earlier this month that gave owners and general managers advice on ways to weather the storm and rebound from the current crisis.

As a next step, program leaders now are planning a Facebook group to provide expertise and resources for the hospitality community. They’ll be recording and posting new content weekly, conducting live interviews, hosting group sessions and periodically posting other resources for the target audience of general managers, owners, and directors in the hospitality industry, a spokesman for the school said.

Cope Notes from Jan. 4 and Jan. 5

Mental health, including fear and anxiety, can be a problem during the Covid-19 crisis, and Johnny Crowder, founder of Cope Notes, a Tampa-based mental health resource, wants to help.

Cope Notes is offering free gift subscriptions for their service.

Participation is 100 percent anonymous and free. Long-term subscriptions are available for purchase, but the #copewithCOVID gift subscriptions are completely disconnected from all paid services, meaning that there is no obligation to continue using Cope Notes after the 14-day gift term, a news release said.

More information is here.

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