The Pasco Economic Development Council Inc. (Pasco EDC), received more than 1,400 applications, before cutting applications off, for a grant program aimed at providing $2 million in assistance to small businesses.
Pasco EDC partnered with Pasco County to provide this relief grant program for small businesses affected by coronavirus disease-2019 (COVID-19). Penny for Pasco revenues will be used to provide the relief.
Besides creating a global medical crisis, COVID-19 has caused an economic meltdown, as businesses have been shuttered to prevent potential spread of the deadly virus.
Bill Cronin, president and CEO of the Pasco EDC, outlined the emergency business program during an April 21 virtual Pasco County Commission meeting.
Cronin explained the idea was to provide up to $5,000 grants to eligible small businesses — based on a first-come, first-served basis.
If every business received $5,000, that would provide grants for 400 businesses, Cronin said.
Commissioner Jack Mariano praised the grant program.
“To actually find out a way to help the small businesses, especially in this tough time, I think is phenomenal,” he said.
But, Mariano asked if smaller grants could be given. Some small businesses might not need the entire $5,000, and more could be helped if they don’t.
Cronin responded: “You do need to make sure that it’s able to make an impact. At $5,000, you can actually cover a rent payment or a mortgage payment, or at least something the landlord would be willing to take. Right now, we’ve identified there is $2 million to use for this fund.”
Commission Chairman Mike Moore agreed with Cronin that the grant should be large enough to make an impact.
Commissioner Ron Oakley observed: “Those 400 small businesses are going to go in a hurry, I think.”
Commissioner Kathryn Starkey said: “I’m very grateful for this effort.”
The board approved the emergency grant program on April 21 and, by 6 p.m., on April 22 the Pasco EDC stopped accepting applications.
The applications are being vetted and applicants will be informed of their status soon, according to a Pasco EDC news release.
Businesses must meet a number of requirements and cannot have more than 25 employees.
The review committee includes bankers and county staff.
No county commissioners are part of the committee, Moore noted, during the board discussion of the grant program.
Published April 29, 2020