The St. Pete Chamber recognizes the public health and potential economic impact of the COVID-19 virus on area businesses. We will be updating this page with pertinent information, resources and assistance with the goal of keeping our members and businesses informed during this rapidly changing situation.
Sign up for text alerts by texting SUNSHINE to 57838 for updates on the latest.
Additional Chamber Resources:
- Resilient St. Pete: Chamber Member Offers
- St. Pete Chamber + St Pete Catalyst Podcast Series: Coronoavirus Impact Insights
State of Florida
UPDATE: Wednesday, April 1st
The State issued a new Safer-at-home Executive Order that goes into affect Friday, April 3rd at 12:01 AM and end on April 30th. The order requires “all persons in Florida to limit their movements and personal interactions” to essential services or activities for the next 30 days. The state will follow the guidelines outlined by the Department of Homeland Security when it comes to which workers and businesses are considered essential and non-essential.
View the full Executive Order here.
Pinellas County COVID-19 Response Page: pinellascounty.org/emergency
City of St. Petersburg
Fighting Chance Fund
To provide relief to small businesses impacted by local COVID-19 orders, the City of St. Petersburg has created the Fighting Chance Fund – an emergency grant for St. Pete’s negatively impacted locally owned and independently operated small businesses.
The fund is expected to provide critical support to about 1,000 restaurant, bar, retail, and service-based businesses and their more than 3,000 eligible employees. The City’s goal is to help offset the significant, temporary loss of revenue during this global pandemic.
This is a City program that provides grants (not loans) in the form of $5,000 to impacted eligible businesses* and $500 to impacted eligible individuals.
Visit www.stpete.org/fightingchancefund to learn more.
Businesses Offering Take-Out or Food Delivery:
Upon request, two additional 15 min “Loading Zones” may be temporarily added on each side of any downtown block where metered or time-limited parking exists. Any business that serves food, that does not already have a dedicated parking lot, and wishes to take advantage of this program, please contact Keith Glasgow, Parking Division Manager at email@example.com
The City’s Planning and Development Services Department has transitioned most services to electronic and virtual formats in an effort to reduce person-to-person interactions.
While in-person services will be limited, the City Planning and Development team will strive to provide the same level of service to our customers through email, phone and virtual options.
All meetings will be handled as conference calls. All plans must be submitted utilizing electronic applications, and all “while you wait” services will be suspended. Please review the PDS Covid-19 Emergency Operation Procedures for details.
Suspended in-person City Services
Effective Monday, March 30, in-person City services are suspended at the Municipal Services Center and Sanitation Administrative & Operations Buildings. During the closure, online/phone services are available to serve your needs. For contact information, click here for a quick reference guide.
Visit stpete.org/emergency for all city related real-time updates.
Public Health Resources
- Center for Disease Control and Prevention
- Florida Department of Health – Pinellas County
- World Health Organization (WHO)
Business Damage Assessment Survey:
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has announced the activation of the Business Damage Assessment survey to assess the impact of COVID-19 on Florida’s local businesses, including those in Pinellas County.
The survey, managed by the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO), will evaluate businesses affected by COVID-19 and the impacts the virus has had on the local economy so actions to implement economic relief programs for businesses can begin.
The St. Pete Chamber encourages preparedness prep for business owners. Please find some helpful links below. If you don’t have a continuity and prep plan, now is a good time to get started.
- US Department of Labor – Guidance on Preparing Workplaces for an Influenza Pandemic
- Department of Health and Human Services – Business Planning Checklist for Pandemics
- Preparedness Planning for your Business
Business Continuity & Employer Resources:
- Business Continuity Plan
- Interim Guide for Businesses & Employers
- Better Business Bureau Scam Alert
- Google My Business: Affected by COVID-19: Provide Customers with Updated Info
- Paycheck Protection Program FAQs for Small Businesses
- Fisher Phillips: FAQs for Employers on the Coronavirus (COVID-19)
- Florida Department of Economic Opportunity: Reemployment Assistance COVID-19 – Frequently Asked Questions
- An Employer’s Guide to Frequently Asked Questions about Reductions in Force and Unemployment Compensation Related to COVID-19
- CARES Act – Paycheck Protection Program FAQ courtesy of Johnson Pope Bokor Ruppel & Burns, LLP
St. Pete Greenhouse Greenhouse: Small Business Resources
The Greenhouse small business resource page for COVID-19: stpetegreenhouse.com/prepare
Greenhouse Connects: A Virtual Meetup for St. Pete Small Businesses
Next Virtual Meetup: Friday, April 10th| 12:00 PM
The Greenhouse invites business owners to join them to check-in, receive important updates related to small business COVID-19 impact and discuss ways the St. Pete business community can continue to connect to help move forward.
Greenhouse – Sandler Training:
As we navigate our way through these unprecedented times, having a support group and continuing to learn and grow will be an important part of the process. In light of this, Sandler Training of Tampa Bay has offered to support the St. Petersburg Chamber members by offering complimentary 90-day access to their online virtual SalesMastery training, as well as 90-day access to their online virtual Sandler Management Solutions training.
The IRS has established a special section focused on steps to help taxpayers, businesses and others affected by the coronavirus. This page will be updated as new information is available.
Treasury, IRS and Labor announce plan to implement Coronavirus-related paid leave for workers and tax credits for small and midsize businesses to swiftly recover the cost of providing Coronavirus-related leave. READ MORE
The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) requires certain employers to provide their employees with expanded family and medical leave for specified reasons related to COVID-19. The Department of Labor’s (Department) Wage and Hour Division (WHD) administers and enforces the new law’s paid leave requirements. These provisions will apply from the effective date through December 31, 2020
Financial Assistance Info
- Information Guide for the following financial programs: Florida Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan and/or SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loan.
- Details on eligibility for the Florida Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan Program. Courtesy of Johnson Pope Bokor Ruppel & Burns, LLP
- Webinar & Presentation Slides: Understanding the Paycheck Protection Program and its Interplay with Newly Mandated Sick Leave under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act. Courtesy of Adams & Reese LLP
- Paycheck Protection Program One-Pager from Senator Marco Rubio
- Florida Lenders for Paycheck Protection Program
- Florida Lenders for Paycheck Protection Program
- Shumaker COVID-19 Client Resource Center: Legal & Legislative Updates
The Paycheck Protection Program is a loan designed to provide a direct incentive for small businesses to keep their workers on the payroll. SBA will forgive loans if all employees are kept on the payroll for eight weeks and the money is used for payroll, rent, mortgage interest, or utilities. You can apply through any existing SBA 7(a) lender or through any federally insured depository institution, federally insured credit union, and Farm Credit System institution that is participating. Other regulated lenders will be available to make these loans once they are approved and enrolled in the program. You should consult with your local lender as to whether it is participating in the program. Lenders may begin processing loan applications as soon as April 3, 2020. The Paycheck Protection Program will be available through June 30, 2020
The federal Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program is now ACTIVE.
The SBA will work directly with state Governors to provide targeted, low-interest loans to small businesses and non-profits that have been severely impacted by the Coronavirus (COVID-19). The SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan program provides small businesses with working capital loans of up to $2 million that can provide vital economic support to small businesses to help overcome the temporary loss of revenue they are experiencing.
Governor Ron DeSantis has activated the Emergency Bridge Loan Program. This website contains applications and full instructions for completing and submitting an Emergency Bridge Loan request as well as other disaster recovery resources.
These short-term, interest-free working capital loans are intended to “bridge the gap” between the time a major catastrophe hits and when a business has secured longer term recovery resources, such as sufficient profits from a revived business, receipt of payments on insurance claims or federal disaster assistance.
The Short Time Compensation Program is a voluntary employer program designed to help employers maintain their staff by reducing the weekly working hours during temporary slowdowns instead of temporarily laying off employees. If an employer establishes a Short Time Compensation Plan and an employee meets the qualifications to file a re-employment assistance claim in the state of Florida, the employee will receive a partial re-employment check to supplement their reduced paycheck.
To apply for the Short Time Compensation Program (required for employees to submit a re-employment claim), please follow this link to the Employer Login page of CONNECT.
- As an employer, you must complete a Short-Time Compensation Plan application. A Short-Time Compensation Plan lasts for one year but can be renewed if your employees have returned to full-time work during the plan year.
- At least 10% (not less than 2) of your employees in your total staff or in a particular department must work reduced hours.
- Employers must name the employee participating in the program and must provide the Department of Economic Opportunity with the employee’s normal weekly hours (excluding overtime).
- Employers must certify that they will reduce the employee’s normal number of weekly work hours by at least 10%, but no more than 40%.
The situation must be temporary rather than a temporary layoff.
- You must be a full-time employee, (not part-time or seasonal) with a standard number of hours worked each week (excluding overtime).
- You must meet all of the normal requirements to establish a Florida reemployment claim and you must provide the Department of Economic Opportunity with any necessary information or documentation.
- While on the Short-Time Compensation program you must work and/or receive paid leave for ALL of the hours that your employer has you scheduled to work in order to receive Short-Time Compensation Benefits for a week.
- Every two weeks you will be required to report your hours worked, plus any hours of paid leave from your Short-Time Compensation employer and if you have a part-time job, earnings from that part-time job.
If your employees will be negatively impacted as a result of the mitigation efforts in Florida to stop the spread of COVID-19, they may be eligible to receive Reemployment Assistance.
Individuals who may be eligible for Reemployment Assistance may include:
- Those who are quarantined by a medical professional or a government agency
- Those who are laid off or sent home without pay for an extended period by their employer due to COVID-19 concerns
- Those who are caring for an immediate family member who is diagnosed with COVID-19.
The Pinellas Arts Community Relief Fund is open to artists residing in Pinellas County, arts organizations and small creative businesses located in Pinellas County, who face an immediate and urgent financial need, directly caused by an emergency or disaster situation.
For this Fund:
- Professional artists are those working in visual arts including, painting, sculpture, murals, photography, etc.; performing arts including theatre, music and dance etc.; literary arts; performance, multimedia, and social justice art; and who are making a significant portion of their income through production/performance/sale of their artwork.
- Arts organizations are 501(c)(3) organizations with the primary mission of providing arts and or cultural experiences to the public.
- Small creative businesses are retail businesses run by artists or in support of artists (such as galleries, art curators/installers, etc.) whose primary source of income is arts related, and whose primary business focus is business-to-consumer or direct/artistic services to artists or arts organizations