By Brad Stager
Local businesses that have lost revenue because of the public health response to the COVID-19 pandemic may be eligible for financial assistance from Hillsborough County.
The money is being disbursed through the county’s Rapid Response Recovery (R3) program, which has been allocating financial support to businesses affected by the pandemic. Eligibility criteria has been recently expanded in order to help more businesses.
Financial grants up to $40,000 are available depending on the size of the business. The grants do not need to be repaid and can be spent on expenses such as rent, wages and vendor invoices. Applications will be accepted through Tuesday, December 1, or until funding is exhausted.
Lynn Kroesen manages the Hillsborough County Entrepreneur Collaborative Center and said the R3 program is a significant initiative to keep business owners operating.
“This provides us an opportunity to provide them the financial assistance they need in a very challenging time, to get through some of the difficult challenges they might be having,” said Kroesen.
Helping get the word out about the R3 program are groups like the Greater Riverview Chamber of Commerce. According to Membership Director Debbie Kirkland, the support is needed.
“Several of our businesses have been significantly hurt during this pandemic and any form of financial assistance is greatly appreciated. For some, the grants can mean the difference between staying open or closing their doors.”
Among the businesses funded is TBD@301, a cafe serving a variety of fare, with an emphasis on Filipino dishes. According to Isabella Rosal, one of TBD@301’s owners, the financial support from Hillsborough County is indeed making a difference for the family business.
“The grants we have received have been our life support the moment our sales dropped,” Rosal wrote in an email.
Social distancing has meant fewer weddings and corporate events for ABC Event Planning, but Owner Craig Beckinger said the $10,000 grant he received will make its way back into the economy.
“It’ll allow me to keep the doors open and pay bills,” he said. Beckinger added that the Florida Small Business Development Center at the University of South Florida provided helpful resources in applying for his grant.
To learn more about the R3 financial assistance, visit hillsboroughcounty.org or call 888-393-7509.