Tampa expands small business grant program and eases requirements

Hillsborough County

TAMPA (WFLA) – Martin Beckman owns Playboyz Barber Shop on Cass Street in Tampa. A small community business that’s been on Cass Street since 1964.

“The business has always flourished. This is a neighborhood, blue collar shop that we cater to the working class people in this area,” said Beckman.

The pandemic shut down the business when the state ordered barbershops to close and that’s when Beckman applied for a “One Tampa” grant to help pay some of his bills.

“It’s been a real blessing. I want to thank Mayor Castor right now for what has transpired as of yet. I was able, through the city grant, to pay my rent for two months,” said Beckman.

However, not all businesses have been able to receive grant money. The city of Tampa will open up a second round of applications starting on Monday, June 1.

“What we are really excited about, for phase two is we were able to eliminate a lot of the criteria we had on round one and make it more expansive and hopefully make it more available to businesses that are located in those geographical locations,” said Carole Post with the City of Tampa.

The money for the “One Tampa” grants comes from Community Redevelopment Area funds. The funds come with certain city and state requirements and can only be spent in specific areas.

Unfortunately, that means Linda Misners fitness business on Davis Islands does not qualify for a grant.

“I was very excited when I first heard about One Tampa. I looked at the requirements, we didn’t initially qualify, but then they revised the requirements and I looked again and we qualified for everything except the geographic location, even though we are in the city of Tampa,” said Misner.

Misner owns “Body by Design” on Davis Boulevard a small fitness center that was shut down when the state ordered businesses like hers to close.

“It was a huge hit. We went from a thriving business, with two personal training rooms booked all day long, six days a week and then to not being allowed to having anybody in,” said Misner.

She was hoping to be involved in the grant program to be able to pay bills and keep her business alive.

“We don’t think it’s very fair. We’re a small Tampa business. We’ve been in the same location for 30 years,” said Misner.

Carole Post with the city says there may be a third round of grants awarded with the help of private donations. That would allow small businesses like Misner’s to be a part of the program.

Business owners have five days to apply and can do so here.

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