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CRA grant applications open for Frenchtown, Southside small business owners

Posted at 5:21 PM, Jun 29, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-29 17:21:36-04

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — Grants are now available for business owners in Tallahassee's Southside and Frenchtown neighborhoods, aimed at helping them bounce back.

New equipment and employees are at the top of the need list for Gurlie's Lemonade and Sweets. If approved for Community Redevelopment Agency's $2,000 grant, their list could become reality.

Serving up sweet treats at the corner of Adams and Magnolia, the co-owner of Gurlie's, DeMetrius Murray is making the most of working through a pandemic.

"The community has helped me put in empathy a little bit," said Murray. "Like 'Aww, I don't want to see him fail. Let's come together to help the little guy out.'"

Now, it isn't only the community members wanting to see Gurlie's Lemonade and Sweets succeed.

"We're being creative," said Curtis Richardson, a Tallahassee City commissioner. "I think it's going to certainly help our minority and small businesses in the Frenchtown Southside CRA district."

The Greater Frenchtown CRA approved the Disaster Assistance Program for Economic Distressed Businesses Grant.

It gives businesses in the district up to $2,000 too help stay afloat.

"I would use a small portion just to get a machine to make operations a little more cleaner," Murray said.

Murray says the owner portion would go back into the community by giving kids jobs.

"Like a direct marketing job," said Murray. "Hire a few kids just to go door to door passing out a few flyers, 'they have these sweet treats up the street. Check it out.'"

There are some guidelines to follow, though. The business has to have 50 employees or less and have been operational since March 18.

"We're just trying to keep the doors open, keep the lights on, keep the propane going, whatever," said Dianne Williams-Cox, Mayor Pro Tem.

While the CRA board moved forward with helping businesses, they took a different approach to help people pay rent.

Since the Leon County commission will discuss rent assistance from the CARES Act next week, the CRA board decided to hold off on using its money for rent assistance but still pledged assistance through an emergency meeting, if need be.

"We should at least commit to coming back together on one item instead of waiting until August or September to address it," said Elaine Bryant, city commissioner.

Leon County will discuss rent assistance at its July 14 meeting. Meanwhile, the CRA is busy reaching out to business owners about the new grant.