By Kyle LoJacono
Hillsborough County Commissioner Sandra Murman is hoping to create 200 new jobs this year with an incentive for small business owners.
Murman, who represents District 1, proposed a program that was passed by the commission that reimburses business owners for up to 50 percent of the first three months total salary of a new employee.
“Hillsborough County needs to grow our economic base and we need to improve the opportunities for businesses and entrepreneurs within our region,” Murman said. “This initiative will have a real impact on the opportunities for local growth of the small business sector.”
Rani Chehal, co-owner of Felicitous Coffee House in Lutz, said she and her partner Cristie Leacock are planning to expand their hours of operation and will need new employees to do that. Chehal said a program like this one would encourage them to bring on some new workers.
“Right now it’s just the two of us doing all the shifts and we’d need to hire one or two more people to increase our hours,” Chehal said. “Right now we’re open Monday through Saturday, but we want to be open seven days a week. If things keep picking up, we’ll need help to take that next step.”
The program, which began March 21, will pay up to $3,900 per new job created. Only businesses with 10 or fewer current employees are eligible for the reimbursement, and the new workers must be residents of Hillsborough.
Additionally, only new full-time positions qualify for the program and the new jobs must exist for the duration of the three months. The small business owners must also attend a minimum of four hours of business workshops and/or counseling sessions.
“We wanted to help those out of work in Hillsborough County, which is why we limited it to Hillsborough residents,” Murman said. “We also wanted to help only the smallest businesses, so that’s why we limited it for those with 10 current employees. Hopefully this will help jump start some businesses and get more people working again.”
Murman said the county has $500,000 to give to small businesses in the county. The program will end when the money is spent.
Small business owners can download an application for the program at Hillsborough’s small business website, www.hillsboroughcounty.org/sbic/info/. They can also find information about starting a business, how to grow a business and other resources. Residents can also contact the county’s Small, Minority Business Development Section at (813) 914-4028.
Chehal and Leacock opened Felicitous Coffee House eight months ago at 19015 US 41, across the street from the Lutz Branch Library. For more information on the business, call (813) 948-6540 or visit www.felicitouscoffee.com.
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