Financial support for small businesses and employees of small businesses in St. Pete

ST. PETERSBURG – Last week, the City of St. Petersburg announced the creation of the Fighting Chance Fund. This emergency grant will be available to St. Pete residents who own and independently operate small businesses that have been negatively impacted by COVID-19 orders.

The fund is expected to provide critical support to about 1,000 restaurants, bar, retail, and service-based businesses and their more than 3,000 eligible employees. The city’s goal is to help offset the significant, temporary loss of revenue during this global pandemic.

“While public health is our first priority during this crisis, we are also focused on the future and St. Pete’s economic recovery. The Fighting Chance Fund is a first step to help our beloved local businesses not only survive this time, but thrive when it ends,” said City Administrator and Deputy Mayor Dr. Kanika Tomalin.

Are you or your business eligible?

As a city program that provides grants — not loans — in the form of $5,000 to impacted eligible businesses and $500 to impacted eligible individuals, this is money that won’t have to be paid back.

It is vital that businesses quickly gather their necessary required paperwork in order quickly. The application opens on April 9. If you think your business is eligible or you have worked for one of the businesses on the list below and lost wages due to COVID-19 orders, you should gather your financial papers right away if you plan to apply.

You may need to contact your bookkeeper, accountant, CPA or financial advisor for help filling out the application. Several organizations are also stepping up to assist with the applications including One Community and the Pinellas County Urban League.

Eligible businesses 

  • Restaurant and bars (includes full-service, limited-service and café establishments)
  • Hair, beauty and other personal services (salons, barbers, massage parlors, tattoo, spas, etc.)
  • Personal care services (child, disabled, & elderly care services, funeral services, etc.)
  • Laundry services (dry cleaning, laundromats, garment repairs and alterations, etc.)
  • Cleaning services
  • Pet care services
  • Personal and household goods repairs & maintenance
  • Fitness centers and gyms; event spaces & services

Eligibility for small businesses

If your business is providing one of the services above and can show loss of revenue due to COVID-19, you must meet the following criteria:

  • Be owned and independently operated in the City of St. Petersburg
  • At least 50 percent of business is owned by a St. Pete resident
  • Business has 25 or less employees
  • Must be able to demonstrate working capital for business operations as of Feb. 28, 2020, through their business’ balance sheet
  • Must be operating within these industries

Business applicants must include the following with application:

  • Copy of state business license from Florida Division of Corporations
  • Business Financials: Sole Proprietors must show Schedule C and most recent annual or quarterly balance sheet or profit & loss statement. All other ownership types will need most recent Federal Corporate Income Tax Return (Form 1120S), most recent annual or quarterly balance sheet or profit & loss statement
  • Current St. Petersburg Business Tax Receipt
  • Copy of driver’s license, state ID, school ID with photo, voter registration or passport
  • Full employee list (as of Jan. 31 and March 31, 2020)
  • Copy of most recent St. Petersburg utility bill statement

If applicant does not pay utilities, provide current General Liability Insurance Policy, ACCORD form or other acceptable form showing commercial address.

Impacted eligible individuals who worked for one of the services above must meet the below requirements:

  • Currently or formerly an employee at a local owned and independently operated business located in the City of St. Petersburg with 25 employees or fewer
  • Be an employee residing in St. Pete
  • Terminated, furloughed or experienced a salary reduction of at least 50 percent after March 17, 2020
  • Must be/have been an employee of a business operating within the defined impacted eligible industries

Individual applicants must include the following:

  • Copy of driver’s license, state ID, school ID with photo, voter registration or passport
  • Copy of your pay stubs from March 1, 2020, to the present
  • Termination letter (if available)


Funds are to only be used for approved/eligible uses. These grants may be considered taxable income, so please contact your financial advisor for guidance.

To receive funding through this program, each business will be required to clearly articulate a plan for utilizing city funds for an eligible use including commercial rent or mortgage payments, utilities, payroll, retention of employees or employee support programs.

For businesses, the award can be used for the following:

  • Commercial lease payments (March, April, May 2020)
  • Commercial mortgage payments (March, April, May 2020)
  • Employee salary and benefits and funding existing payroll
  • Other sales, general and administrative expenses (SGA) deemed critical for business operations
  • Utilities
  • New equipment needed to assist the business to a temporary digital transition (e.g. webcams for virtual trainings, software licensing for videoconferencing, etc.)

Application period begins April 9 – but don’t wait to gather your financials and necessary papers.

There are limited funds that will be distributed on a first-submitted and correctly completed application basis. There is no deadline to apply. The city has allocated $6.8 million for this fund and applications will be accepted until funds are exhausted.

“Our locally-owned businesses are the backbone of this city and we are committed to giving them a fighting chance to survive this crisis and emerge stronger than ever,” said Mayor Rick Kriseman.

For more application information and full eligibility details, visit

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