County creates online small business resource for COVID-19

As many restaurants and businesses adjust operations due to COVID-19 response and social distancing, the Santa Rosa County Economic Development Office (SRCEDO) has rolled out an online resource to help small business.

The SRCEDO unveiled SantaRosaReady.com, a site that will provide businesses of all sizes access to information and resources to help minimize and offset losses suffered as a result of the COVID-19, which has disrupted commerce worldwide.

The site features links to planning and preparedness guides from federal and state sources, health information from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), and information about financial assistance now available, including the Florida Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan Program, and others that are expected to be available soon.

In an email sent March 17 to Santa Rosa County businesses and chambers of commerce, SRCEDO Executive Director Shannon Ogletree said his organization’s goal is to help local businesses “get through this time of uncertainty and hardship and return to normal operations as soon as is safely possible.”

“Our commitment to you is that we will bring to bear all the resources at our disposal to help you,” Ogletree wrote. “We will work with our state and federal partners to access additional assistance as it is available. And, we will be transparent – you will know what we know as soon as we know it.”

In addition to providing information to business owners, the SRCEDO is requesting data from them as well. Specifically, the website asks visitors to fill out damage assessment surveys for the state of Florida and for Santa Rosa County.

The former is critical because it is used to determine the level of funding that will be available through the U.S. Small Business Administration’s (SBA’s) Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program. The latter asks many of the same questions, but the input is immediately available to Santa Rosa County officials and will help them make informed decisions about relief efforts.

Ogletree concluded his letter with a reminder that Santa Rosa County has overcome severe business disruptions in the past.

“Even though COVID-19 is a new threat, it is certainly not the first emergency we’ve endured as a community,” he wrote. “We have weathered natural disasters – from hurricanes to floods to ice storms – and we will put this one behind us as well.”

 

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