CRA board working to help Frenchtown and Southside businesses affected by COVID-19

Published: Jun. 29, 2020 at 12:01 PM EDT|Updated: Jun. 29, 2020 at 5:54 PM EDT
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - The Community Redevelopment Agency Board met Monday morning to discuss how it will assist businesses in the Southside Frenchtown CRA District with adverse economic impacts the coronavirus pandemic has brought.

Under the disaster assistance program, small businesses will be eligible for a one time, $2,000 grant. For a business to be eligible, it has to have at least one employee, but fewer than 50 employees.

The businesses would also have to pledge in good faith to continue operations for 45 days after receiving the grant. Businesses must show that they were negatively impacted by COVID, and that they were open on or before March 18th. They also need to be registered with the state and operate in the Greater Frenchtown Southside CRA district.

One longtime Frenchtown business tells WCTV they are thrilled to be able to apply for the grant, after missing the Blueprint CEDR funding.

“Business is off. Door turn is off. Last month for the vacuum center, business was pretty good, people were at home vacuuming. They’re not buying as many lamps or shades, comparatively speaking,” said Doug Fisher.

Fisher has owned and operated Doug’s Vacuum Center and Doug’s Lamp and Shade for about 35 years.

The grant can be used for any business expenses, including utilities, rent, or employee salaries.

“It won’t be hard to spend it, I can tell you that!” said Fisher.

The program has a total of $250,000 to be distributed. The Citizens Advisory Committee, or CAC, had recommended $1,000,000 for the program. However, to fund that high of an amount, the CRA would have had to take out loans, which the Board ultimately voted against.

“I do have to say, budgeting is going to be very difficult when we do fully understand the impacts of COVID19; I have no idea what it’s going to do with our budget for the year following 2021,” said Assistant City Manager Wayne Tedder.

The $250,000 total will have no impact on existing neighborhood and businesses plans and programs.

The board also discussed possible rental or mortgage assistance, but ultimately voted to hold off until the Leon County Commission decides how to utilize CARES Act funding.

“If for whatever reason their actions don’t satisfy what we want to do, we can revisit it in the future, but this is exciting that we’re able to pull down some CARE acts funding,” said Mayor John Dailey.

The Leon County Commission will meet on Tuesday, July 14th.

WCTV will update this article with the application link when it becomes available.

Copyright 2020 WCTV. All rights reserved.

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