Home-based businesses not eligible for Pinellas CARES grants

Coronavirus

PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – When Chris Lauber learned Pinellas County was going to be doling out thousands of dollars for small businesses and individuals he thought to himself, finally, help is on the way. He was wrong.

Lauber and his wife own Florida Road Races, a company that’s been in business for more than three decades. The couple organizes marathons and other running events in Pinellas County and operates the business from their home. That’s the problem.

When the county announced the “Pinellas CARES fund” it outlined who was eligible for the grant money.

According to a release from the county, larger businesses, non-profits, and home-based businesses are not eligible leaving Lauber scratching his head.

“And it’s very frustrating for them, for the county to have a program that we’re eliminated from,” said Lauber. “Solely because we work from our house.”

Lauber added, they pay taxes, hire off duty law enforcement for events and he can’t understand why the smallest of the small businesses would be eliminated from the list.

Dawn and Amber Britner agree. The couple operates Sweet Peas Preschool in unincorporated Clearwater. The school only has six students total, but as a result of the COVID-19 situation, two of the schools students are no longer attending.

Amber Britner says that’s a significant chunk off the bottom line.

“We’ve lost about a third of our revenue,” said Britner. “With families that have been furloughed or their other siblings aren’t able to come to school because their schools have closed so they’re keeping their kids at home with them.”

County Administrator Barry Burton explains that the county was simply trying to get the monies to those who need it the most as quickly as possible. The county’s release even states it is “Assistance for individuals and families facing overdue rent, and utilities.

“We were trying to react to receiving federal funds and designed programs where we could get money to people quickly,” said Burton. “And so, this was the art of good and not the art of perfect.”

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