Application Deadline: Friday, August 14, 2020 at 5pm

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (CW44 News At 10) – St. Petersburg business owners impacted financially by COVID-19 have less than two days now left to apply for the city’s Fighting Chance Fund. CW44’s Price McKeon spoke with one business owner who received relief money and used it in a unique way.

Kelly Rodriguez Laureano and her husband own Sofia’s on the corner of 24th St. N. and Central. “It’s been a really traumatic I think, situation for most small business owners, not just us.” The St.
Pete small business owner shares a story that we’ve heard all too often. “It’s really frightening to think how it will affect us in the long run,” said Rodriguez Laureano.

Restaurant owners in the Tampa Bay region and beyond have been forced to make tough decisions: laying off employees that are like family, throwing away thousands of dollars of perishable items only to reopen up to half capacity inside and remain that way for who knows how long. “You worry about [employees] being able to pay their bills and feed themselves and their families.”

Never giving up looking for fighting chance, Rodriguez Laureano applied to the city’s grant, fittingly named, St. Pete’s Fighting Chance Fund. She was approved for assistance. “I say, ‘do it’. I mean, there’s nothing to lose.” That’s her message to other St. Pete small business owners that were hurt financially by COVID-19.

The grant application cutoff is approaching quickly, but Rodriguez Laureano says the application process is incredibly simple. Grant money is still available and applications will still be accepted through 5pm on Friday, August 14, 2020.

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Small businesses that are brick and mortar are eligible for $4,000. Home-based businesses are eligible to receive $2,000. If you own two businesses, each may apply for the grant, which is exactly what Rodriguez Laureano did. “I think it took me maybe 10 to 15 minutes,” said Rodriguez Laureano. Both of her St. Pete restaurants received help from the city.

At Sofia’s, she thought outside of the box and use some of the money to build a box. More specifically, all of their Basil now is grown in-house. They’ve built planters to make outdoor seating more appealing which helps the patio scene flourish, hoping to attract more business.

Rodriguez Laureano reiterates, “We all are in this together and that’s one thing that so great about St. Pete. We are in this together.” The grant helped to give her business that fighting chance and she hopes it gives other owners a chance as well.

Again, the application process ends Friday, August 14, 2020 at 5pm. You may apply on the City of St. Petersburg’s website.

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