Port St. Lucie city leaders want to help small businesses affected by the pandemic

Shaun H. Ruff

Help for small businesses crippled by COVID-19 could be coming to the city of Port St. Lucie.

On Monday, city leaders finalized their application to try and secure $1.5 million in COVID-19 assistance for small businesses.

“Although we do understand we are in a recovery mode, there are still a lot of businesses that probably aren’t where they were prior to the pandemic,” said Elijah Wooten, Economic Development Administrator.

The deadline to submit the application to the Department of Economic Opportunity is November 1st.

Wooten said if approved, applicants would have to either be located in low to moderate income areas, or have low to moderate household incomes.

“Providing grants up to $25,000 to those businesses that were impacted,” said Wooten. “When we say impacted, the general rule of thumb is between 2019 and 2020, to show a loss in revenue.”

Last year, small business assistance from the federal government was distributed at the county level.

“I really thought I was going to lose it for awhile,” said Lorraine Pannozzo, owner of Extreme Dance Company.

Pannozzo was able to secure the max grant of $7,500 from St. Lucie County in 2020.

She said it helped keep her passion alive after her studio was shutdown for months and her students were forced to learn ballet on Zoom.

“It can go towards payroll, it can go towards rent,” said Pannozzo. “Actually it can go towards pretty much any losses due to COVID.”

City leaders say after the application is submitted, they hope to hear back from the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity within a matter of weeks.

Scripps Only Content 2021

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