JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Mayor Lenny Curry held a virtual seminar Thursday to discuss Jacksonville’s economic future with about 500 local business leaders.
Curry talked about when things could return to business as usual and fielded questions about how the city can help local businesses struggling during this public health crisis.
The mayor, who was joined by Jax Chamber and VyStar Credit Union leaders, said 500 businesses have already applied for the business loan program the city is sponsoring.
Much of Curry’s comments were focused on what lies ahead for Jacksonville after the pandemic and his goal of getting the city past a second wave, should it come to pass.
“We are seeing hints and signs that maybe sometime in early May,” Curry said. “But I will say this about Jacksonville: as we come out of this, I’ve already tasked my team and getting healthcare experts and thinking about if there is another wave of this (virus).”
The mayor said his focus is on developing solutions to provide an urgent response to future outbreaks, including ways of conducting rapid testing and measures to identify those who have been impacted and move them into isolation.
“Even if those around us are in for shutdown mode, the hope is we can operate with some sense of normalcy,” Curry said.
The mayor said VyStar has already begun processing applications for the 500 businesses seeking assistance. The $26 million backing the business loans is coming out of city reserves. Curry said it’s a good thing those reserves are robust.
“We are going to take a hit in property taxes, sales taxes,” he said. “The next budget is going to be difficult. My guess is the next couple of budgets, it’s going to be difficult but we will work through them.”
So far, there has been no discussion of raising property taxes to make up for the money being spent on the city’s response to the coronavirus outbreak.