One Community Launches Second Microgrant Program for St. Petersburg Businesses
-By Gypsy Gallardo for the One Community Business Network
The One Community Plan team at Pinellas County Urban League launched its second microgrant program Friday evening, as part of the #InThisTogether COVID Recovery & Resilience Initiative.
The first microgrant program – called #PayItForward St. Pete – was rolled out in late March to support entrepreneurs in the beauty industry which was decimated by social distancing guidelines. The goal is to finalize microgrants with 25 barbers and stylists.
This second microgrant program – called #StrongerTogether – is for businesses in any sector that were hard-hit by the COVID crisis. The project will make at least 20 microgrants of $1,500 each to business owners in South St. Petersburg.
A third and final microgrant program – #4StPete Creatives – will be introduced over the weekend to support entrepreneurs such as graphic designers, painters, digital artists, and other creatives who lost income in the wake of the shutdowns.
City Councilmember Deborah Figgs-Sanders helped recruit project coordinators for the microgrant program. She identified Kristopher McClendon to help lead #PayItForward and Erin McFarley to serve as point person for #StrongerTogether.
Christopher Roberts a.k.a. Brain Storm was recruited as project coordinator for #4StPeteCreatives.
All three are entrepreneurs whose businesses were heavily impacted by the pandemic. McClendon is owner of Salon Bespoke and Roberts owns Urban Ink Tattoo company, both of which have closed-up shop until the shutdown is lifted.
McFarley (pictured here) is a St. Petersburg native who describes herself as a serial entrepreneur, author, realtor, tax professional and oratorical coach. She is CEO of two organizations – Force of Nature Industries and The Rising Phoenix Firm. McFarley says at least half of typical revenue sources are no longer viable due to the crisis.
“Hiring entrepreneurs who lost revenue due to COVID is another way we’re supporting community businesses,” says Pastor Louis Murphy, Pastor of Mt. Zion Progressive. Rev. Murphy sits on the board of The 2020 Plan, the organization that leads the One Community Plan and the #InThisTogether initiative.
He says, “It is our hope that more funders pitch in to support this effort so that we can help even more businesses.” In addition to microgrants, program participants will be given free technology tools and one-to-one coaching to help strengthen their foundation.
Several local funders and dozens of community leaders are contributing to the effort. Major funding is provided by the Foundation for a Healthy St. Petersburg, the City of St. Petersburg and Grow Smarter, an initiative housed at the St. Petersburg Area Chamber of Commerce.
Businesses interested in applying to #StrongerTogether can learn more on the One Community website.
To share resources or request information, write to us at OneCommunityPlan@gmail.com or visit us online at OneCommunityStPete.com.