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Commentary: Jacksonville small business relief program turns blind eye to new businesses

In order to qualify for small-business relief, Mayor Lenny Curry said that the business must have been in operation for at least one full year.

A bill passed Monday in Jacksonville City Council's virtual meeting will allow small businesses impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic some relief in the form of city-funded interest payments and loan principal.

However, in order to qualify for the relief, Mayor Lenny Curry said that the business must have been in operation for at least one full year.

For most businesses in our city, that poses no problem. But for others that are just starting out, perhaps with a smaller amount of liquid capital, it's a slight that hurts them at their most vulnerable point.

RELATED: Mayor Curry unveils details of small business loan program, thanks kids for being 'germ-busters'

Ordinance 2020-0201 creates what the city calls the "COVID-19 Small Business Relief & Employee Retention Grant Program." It was passed unanimously during what has become the normal: a city government meeting on Zoom.

In order to qualify for loans, businesses must have been in operation for one year and employ anywhere from two to 100 people. They will also have to provide the most recent one year of business tax returns and one year of personal tax returns.

But what if the business just opened its doors? That business would have no tax return to submit and be ineligible for the loans based on city standards.

It's these new businesses that put everything on the line only to have their future dreams snatched away by a pandemic, in a city that fails to recognize that.

It includes places like Midtown Table in the Town Center area, who recently opened and has since been forced to offer to-go options only.

Or ABBQ in Atlantic Beach, a counter-style BBQ joint that opened in July, that has also forced to cut staff hours and limit indoor dining. 

There have been so many great new businesses to open up shop in the past year on the First Coast that the COVID-19 Small Business Relief Program won't do anything for.

So, if you're able, consider visiting the new businesses that have recently opened up and supporting them during this trying time. 

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