By: Monica Casey | WCTV Eyewitness News
March 23, 2020
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) -- Two Tallahassee businesses received the first Small Business Emergency Bridge loans from the state; now, the Blueprint board has scheduled a meeting for Wednesday, March 25, to try to find a local solution as well.
The loans to Full Press Apparel and Jersey Mike's Subs were processed by FAMU's Small Business Development Center.
They're called "bridge loans" because the goal is to bridge the gap between the time when the economic impact occurred, and when a business can secure other financial resources.
Full Press Apparel has operated in Tallahassee for more than 20 years. Co-owner Danny Shrine says the loan took just two days, and it was simple compared to a bank loan.
"Acting as quickly as possible and taking advantage of these programs that are in place to help us. They're for all employers, we've all been harmed, and have really seen an attitude of willingness to help," said Shrine.
Shrine says production has been down by about 70%.
"Every event that's canceled is a t-shirt that's not made, every team that's not playing, every concert that doesn't take place, all of that comes back to us," he said.
The business is using the loan to create more paid time off for employees, who are struggling due to less available working hours. Less business means less manpower needed.
"We've got the funding to take care of all our employees, keep them employed, on the payroll, and not suffering financially," said Shrine. "We have 65 employees, and all of their families are dependent on their income."
Local leaders are also preparing to help small businesses, scheduling a Blueprint meeting for Wednesday.
"We've got the ability, under the tent of economic development, to say can we go back in and help some of these businesses. We have a limited amount of funds, and I'm not gonna say we're gonna solve all of the problems, but I think we can get creative," said Leon County Commissioner and Board Chair Bryan Desloge.
Desloge says Blueprint in itself is somewhat a hybrid form of City and County; it's made up of all City commissioners and County commissioners. Blueprint money is usually used for infrastructure, but can also be used for economic development.
"Staff's been looking around at ways we can potentially get some short-term relief," said Desloge. "It's the right thing to do, and it's a hard thing to do. Everybody's sensitive to the fact that we don't want to hamstring ourselves going forward, but we're kind of in uncharted waters."
Due to Sunshine Law, commissioners cannot communicate with each other outside of public meetings; many have posted their ideas on social media.
On Friday, March 20, Mayor Dailey urged Desloge to call the Blueprint meeting for early this week, to allow local government to devise a solution.
City Commissioner Jeremy Matlow also tweeted his ideas, writing: "I believe we need to make $10 million available in $25,000 interest-free small business loans, dedicate our entire Office of Economic Vitality staff to assisting local businesses to connect to State and Federal resources, and put a six-month moratorium on all other OEV spending."