On Wednesday, August 12 Congressman Charlie Crist visited Gulfport to talk about the success of small businesses during the pandemic.
The press conference took place outside of O’Maddy’s under looming afternoon rain clouds.
The location was no coincidence – O’Maddy’s was one Gulfport small business that received a potentially forgivable loan courtesy of the Paycheck Protection Program. The PPP was designed to provide a direct incentive for small businesses to keep their workers on the payroll and their businesses open during the pandemic.
Along with the PPP loan, Gulfport rolled out a grant for small businesses. The Gateway Small Business Grant allotted $50,000 from the unrestricted general fund balance. The grant helped businesses by offering a credit towards their utility bill to help offset the cost of doing business, while actually not doing much business at all.
Via the Heroes Act (H.R. 6800), Gulfport would receive more than $6 million between now and 2021. The House of Representatives passed the act in May, but it still has hurdles to clear in the Senate. The Gabber recently reported on the Heroes Act and Gulfport Council’s support of the USPS, but the act is meant to do much more.
“The Heroes Act would allocate to Gulfport an estimated $4.1 million in 2020, as well as $2 million in 2021,” said Chloe Kessock, Charlie Crist’s press assistant. “County wide, it would provide Pinellas County $365.5 million in 2020, and $182.77 million in 2021.”
“The recent funding is part of state and local coronavirus relief funds that would be created by the Heroes Act and would allocate funds through the Department of the Treasury to help first responders, frontline health workers, transit employees, teachers, and other workers providing vital services,” reads the bill.
Funds could be used for COVID-19-related expenses, to supplement expenses not previously projected in budget planning, or to respond to negative economic impacts of COVID-19.
Much like Gulfport’s small business and residential utility grants, funds would be available until expended.
“We’re the richest country in the world,” said Crist during Wednesday’s press conference. “We’re the richest country in the history of the world. If we can’t reach out and help our communities, our towns, our small businesses, then something is wrong. This is why we voted for $3 trillion, for this purpose, to help our businesses and to help our communities across America.”
Find more on the Heroes Act at congress.gov.