ST. JOHNS COUNTY, Fla. – Small business owners in St. Johns County could get some help revamping their stores. The County Commission is offering half a million dollars in COVID relief money for improvements.
Each small business owner can get up to $49,500 from the grant program. It is a one-time offer and businesses will need to meet specific requirements.
They can use the money to update outdoor spaces and help protect against COVID-19.
Sebastian Zimler serves up Argentinian and Uruguayan food at Pampa South American Kitchen.
He opened the restaurant in St. Augustine’s Westgate Plaza just over a year ago in the middle of the pandemic.
“We were just offering pick-up, so it really affected us,” Zimler said of the challenges he faced initially.
Zimler is one of many St. Johns County small business owners who can apply for the Small Business Exterior Improvement Grant.
They have two options. First, they can enhance their outdoor space for COVID-19 mitigation. For example, Zimler could add more seating outside his doors.
“They can come up with a solution like, ‘Hey let’s build some structure that allows seating, for instance maybe in the parking lot, a space dedicated with a tent,’” Zimler said.
Or businesses can upgrade the front of their building or make exterior repairs with the money they receive.
“It would be a lot of exposure,” Zimler said. “Since we opened during the pandemic, we had to delay our opening. We had other expenses that we had not contemplated at first. So, we had a budget for more marketing, maybe a bigger sign and we had to reduce that budget.”
Business owners have until July 1, 2022, to apply. Click here for a link to the application portal.
They must have less than 100 employees and operate in St. Johns County.
These grants are rolling out on a first-come, first-served basis. Zimler is curious to see if he will be a recipient.
For any owner receiving the grant, the work at their facility must be done by Dec. 30, 2022.