Economic Recovery Plan
TASK FORCE FORMATION
In March 2020, Mayor Eric Seidel selected business, community, and government representatives to serve on the COVID-19 Economic Recovery Task Force. The Task Force has business community stakeholders from the insurance, manufacturing, banking, restaurant, and technology industry sectors.
TASK FORCE MEMBERS
- Sandie Grimes - Stahl and Associates, Co-Chair
- Robin Reynolds - Microlumen, Co-Chair
- Michelle Baldwin - Synovus Bank
- Felicia Donnelly - City of Oldsmar
- Nick Pappas - Flamestone American Grill, Beachwood Seafood Kitchen and Bar
- Jerry Peruzzi - Upper Tampa Bay Chamber of Commerce
- Amy Rettig - Nielsen
- Scott Talcott - Pinellas County Economic Development
To determine the effects of COVID-19 Pandemic on the current conditions of Oldsmar’s economy, the Task Force examined results from survey efforts that included a Task Force identification of strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (SWOT) analysis and a business telephone survey conducted by City of Oldsmar staff.
The Task Force created a vision statement based on the current economic conditions, the Task Force SWOT analysis, and the business telephone survey.
The Task Force created strategies to implement and support the vision. These strategies are short-term and will be revisited in 90 days. The strategies are identified and presented in four categories: Communication, Technical Assistance, Marketing and Promotion, and Business-Friendly City Policies.
In early April 2020, each member of the Task Force completed a SWOT analysis from the lens of their respective industry. These analyses highlighted some of the issues faced by the various sectors in Oldsmar and served as a source of initial input to the recovery process. In general, the following were identified:
- Community partnerships-existing network of businesses/leaders
- Ability to respond to changing environment
- Ability to respond to employee needs by individual businesses
- Philanthropic mindset
- Disruption of business as we know it, and uncertain future
- Loss of income
- Supply chain disruption
- Employee absenteeism
- Containment of virus spread
- Social media/internet promotion and information dissemination
- Operating businesses providing supplies and services to others in the community
- Sharing resources, such as facility space, supplies, or PPE
- Move business back to ’Made in America’ - increase local jobs
- Give your time, business knowledge, industry expertise to assist Oldsmar businesses
- Supply chain disruption
- Economic recession - business downsizing or closure, loss of clients, employee layoffs
- Navigating the new virtual culture - responsiveness to client/customer
- Loss of tax revenue
- When will customers feel safe to return?
BUSINESS TELEPHONE SURVEY
As part of the discovery efforts to assess the current conditions of the business community, a telephone survey was conducted by City of Oldsmar staff members. It is important to note that the data only represents those businesses that responded by telephone. It does not capture information for the non-respondents. This is important as businesses that may have been severely impacted by the COVID-19 Pandemic may not be represented in the data.
The questions that were asked during the interview by City of Oldsmar staff were:
- What type of business do you operate?
- How many people does your company employ?
- What is the average salary of your employees?
- Has there been a change in business due to COVID-19?
- What do you expect long-term?
- Is there a way you can be of assistance to the community?
- Do you have extra PPE on-site?
- Are you aware of financial assistance programs?
NUMBER OF SURVEY RESPONSES
The City attempted to contact 717 businesses during the survey period. 343 of the 717 were successfully contacted, while 222 completed a majority of the survey. As such, the survey has a 48% engagement rate, with a 31% completion rate.
The summary points of the survey are as follows:
- More than half of the businesses contacted responded to the calls, while about a third gave detailed responses to most questions.
- The industries of construction, accommodation and food, finance, and insurance provided the most responses.
- 74% of businesses remain open in some capacity.
- 76% of open businesses reported decreased income.
- No business reported that they expected to permanently close due to COVID-19.
- 53% of businesses do not have additional PPE provided for their employees.
When there is a constant flow of evolving information during a crisis, it is vital to ensure there are multiple methods of communication to keep stakeholders up-to-date with accurate, current information. during this current COVID-19 Pandemic, the City of Oldsmar, Pinellas County, and the Upper Tampa Bay Chamber of Commerce quickly implemented the following methods to communicate to the business community. The Task Force recommends the continuation of each of the specific techniques for the remainder of 2020.
At the beginning of the COVID-19 Pandemic, the City of Oldsmar staff expeditiously created a webpage with business resources specific to the crisis. This webpage is updated as new programs and funding opportunities become available.
PERSONAL TELEPHONE CALLS
The City of Oldsmar staff personally places telephone calls to Oldsmar businesses, which indicated a desire to stay connected in the initial telephone survey. City staff informs them of important information such as new City programs and State directives. Currently, 222 businesses receive personal phone calls for each message.
CITY MANAGER WEEKLY E-NEWSLETTER
In March 2020, City Manager Al Braithwaite began sending weekly updates, released on Fridays, to a subscriber list of 2,100 people in the community. The update includes current directives, important notices, and upcoming programs.
SOCIAL MEDIA UPDATES
The City of Oldsmar and the Upper Tampa Bay Chamber consistently post essential messages on multiple social media accounts, including Facebook and Nextdoor.
ALERT PINELLAS NOTIFICATIONS
Through an official notification system, the City sends alerts to over 7,500 Oldsmar subscribers, and 1,387 Oldsmar Business subscribers. This alert system sends notifications to the subscriber’s method of choice (email, text, or phone). This system has been and will continue to be used to notify subscribers of additional funding opportunities and essential information.
LUNCH AND LEARNS
The Upper Tampa Bay Chamber of Commerce hosts important Lunch and Learns every week for their members. This is a valuable method for members to share concerns, challenges, and potential solutions.
VIRTUAL COFFEE TALKS
The Upper Tampa Bay Chamber of Commerce continues to host Virtual Coffee Talks for its membership base with elected officials to discuss the last information.
INDUSTRY PARTNER VIRTUAL MEETINGS
The Upper Tampa Bay Chamber of Commerce will continue to host industry partner meetings. These meetings allow industry peers to discuss the latest news and share solutions.
PINELLAS COUNTY ONLINE RESOURCES
Pinellas County offers comprehensive website resources of current opportunities at federal, state, and local levels.
In addition to federal and state financial assistance, several local programs are available to provide financial aid to Oldsmar businesses. Local financial support is currently available through Pinellas CARES (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act) Business and Nonprofit grants. In addition to listing the current opportunities, this section includes proposed, but unfunded, strategies.
PINELLAS COUNTY CARES SMALL BUSINESS GRANTS
Pinellas CARES Small Business Grants will assist local businesses that had to close or significantly reduce operations due to the Pandemic and the resulting statewide orders to curb the spread of the virus. Grants are limited to businesses with a commercial location in the County.
This program offers $5,000 grants to small businesses to cover expenses such as employee wages, vendor bills, and mortgage or rent costs.
- Businesses must have a physical location in Pinellas County with 1-25 full-time employees or equivalent part-time employees, including the owner.
- Restaurants, bars, short-term lodging, and other non-essential businesses impacted by the local or state safer-at-home orders are eligible.
- Larger businesses, nonprofits, and home-based businesses are not eligible.
- Funds can be used to pay employee wages, vendors, rent, or other business expenses.
- No grant reimbursement is required.
- Businesses can only apply for this one-time assistance program to cover COVID-19 related costs that have not already been paid for by insurance or by another federal program.
PINELLAS COUNTY CARES NONPROFIT GRANTS
Nonprofits and community organizations that have seen a major increase in service needs due to the COVID-19 Pandemic may be eligible to apply for funding through Pinellas County’s portion of the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.
Organizations that serve low to moderate-income residents can apply for funds to support public health, feeding operations, emergency sheltering, housing, and other services.
Available funds include $1,481,969 in the Community Development Block Grant Program - Coronavirus Response (CDBG-CV) and $739,117 in Emergency Solution Grant - Coronavirus Response (ESG-CV) funds.
LANDLORD (COMMERCIAL RENTAL) ASSISTANCE PROGRAM
A Landlord (Commercial Assistance Program) should be considered to assist Oldsmar small businesses who have lost rental revenue due to the COVID-19 Pandemic. This grant money will be paid directly to the landlord/property owner. The intent is to provide business-to-business support so that individual business needs are met, and commercial landlords are paid, which strengthens their position and ability to potentially assist with special needs.
Using the Pinellas CARES template as a model, the application process could be simple. Businesses can qualify for this program, even if they have applied for or received funding from other programs. Requirements could include:
- Proof of commercial lease in the City of Oldsmar.
- Open for business from 10/1/2019 through 2/29/2020, and expecting to return to full operation.
- Profit and loss information to substantiate lost revenue.
Depending on the funds available, businesses could receive support equal to a percentage of their monthly rent for a specified period of time, based on a simple formula that uses the company’s loss of gross revenue to calculate. For example, 50% of their monthly rent with a gross revenue loss of 70% or more for up to three months.
501(c)6 ASSISTANCE PROGRAM
Similar to the program available to nonprofits and community organizations, additional funding is recommended to support the nonprofits operating to promote the common business interest of its members, such as the Chamber of Commerce. During this Pandemic, businesses are seeking enhanced support and services from the Chamber of Commerce. In addition, the Upper Tampa Bay Chamber of Commerce has a large supporting role in the recovery process, so keeping this organization at its full capacity is vital.
PERSONAL PROTECTIVE EQUIPMENT (PPE) SUPPORT
The Task Force recommends the purchase and donation of PPE by the City of Oldsmar to help small businesses get back to work. As companies open back up for business, more PPE is required. PPE Packs may include protective face masks, hand sanitizer, gloves, and other items. This would assist the business community in reducing expenses associated with their reopening efforts.
DISCOUNT OF FEES AND TAXES BY PINELLAS COUNTY / STATE OF FLORIDA
The Task Force recommends the consideration of a discount on taxes and/or fees rendered to Pinellas County or the State of Florida. This could be considered if additional stimulus funding was received by Pinellas County or the State of Florida by the United States government. The Task Force is not recommending that government services and/or local government revenue be reduced as a result of this recommendation.
City of Oldsmar staff, the Upper Tampa Bay Chamber of Commerce, and Task Force members provide crucial technical assistance to businesses. Technical assistance is provided through the Oldsmar Resource Hotline, a Technical Expertise Resources Group, Industry Working Groups, Pinellas County Small Business Development Center Programs, and Oldsmar Works. The Task Force recommends the continuation of each of the specific techniques for the remainder of 2020.
OLDSMAR ASSISTANCE HOTLINE
The Oldsmar Assistance Hotline is available for businesses and individuals. The Hotline helps finds business resources (such as emergency loans, grants), helps locate personal financial resources (unemployment, other assistance), find food resources, or locates free online fitness classes.
TECHNICAL EXPERTISE RESOURCES GROUP
The Upper Tampa Bay Chamber of Commerce is coordinating a Technical Expertise Resources Group. The group consists of representatives from the banking, accounting, legal, insurance, and commercial real estate management industries to help answer specific questions and offer guidance to Oldsmar businesses.
INDUSTRY WORKING GROUPS
Industry working groups have been formed, and meetings will continue to be held in an electronic format, coordinated by the Upper Tampa Bay Chamber of Commerce. The groups provide the mechanisms for industry peers to brainstorm and examine solutions to current challenges.
PINELLAS COUNTY SMALL BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT CENTER’S PROGRAMS
Pinellas County Small Business Development Center (SBDC) offers several programs that benefit Oldsmar businesses. These include business assistance, retention and expansion services, and growth consulting. In addition, Pinellas County supports small businesses through County purchasing activities.
Business Assistance, Retention & Expansion Services
Business Growth Consulting
This is a personalized counseling service designed to increase profits and accelerate growth. This personalized business service includes professional guidance to companies from experiences experts throughout a business life cycle.
Small Business Enterprise
The program fosters small businesses participation in the competitive process for local government contracts through Pinellas County. The program also provides assistance in marketing products and services to other local municipalities in Pinellas.
Other SBDC Programs include:
- Business and Marketing Plan Templates
- Financial Technical
- Government Contracting
- Workforce Development Programs
- Navigating Government Permitting & Licensing
Oldsmar Works is a program of Oldsmar Cares, a local nonprofit organization. The program offers job assistance programs to unemployed and underemployed people in the Oldsmar area. Their services include resume building, training opportunities, employment resources, and emotional encouragement. In addition to individual assistance, Oldsmar Works assists businesses that may have additional or changing employee staffing needs.
MARKETING AND PROMOTION
Businesses need assistance in marketing and promoting their operations now more than ever. The Task Force recommends helping small businesses with marketing and promotion through the development and launch of a community-wide business support marketing campaign and local business promotion and marketing through the Upper Tampa Bay Chamber of Commerce.
SOCIAL MEDIA PROMOTION OF OPENINGS & OFFERINGS
The Upper Tampa Bay Chamber of Commerce will continue to actively promote offerings and openings of Oldsmar businesses, primarily retails and restaurants.
COMMUNITY-WIDE BUSINESS SUPPORT MARKETING CAMPAIGN
The Task Force recommends that a community-wide business support marketing campaign promote the importance of shopping, dining, and staying local and the importance of unity within the community during the COVID-19 crisis and throughout the economic recovery. The campaign is intended to tell the personal stories of local business owners, humanize their business, and encourage local patronage. This would be implemented by the Upper Tampa Bay Chamber of Commerce and the City of Oldsmar.
The Task Force recommends a drive-through "Business Blitz." It is envisioned there would be signs posted along a roadway featuring discounts at local retailers. The consumer would have to stop and take a photo of the sign. The sign could then be redeems for a discount at area businesses. This special event would be implemented by the Upper Tampa Bay Chamber of Commerce.
BUSINESS FRIENDLY CITY POLICIES
City policies and programs have been reviewed, and the Task Force is proposing the continuation of existing City of Oldsmar Executive Orders that encourage a more business-friendly environment that will minimize additional costs, burdens, and barriers. In addition to listing the current opportunities, this section includes proposed, but unfunded, strategies.
CONTINUE TO ALLOW OUTDOOR SEATING EXPANSION
Mayor Seidel issued Executive Order 2020-19 on May 1, 2020, to allow the temporary expansion of outdoor dining for restaurants. The Task Force recommends this should continue until restaurants are permitted to operate at full capacity.
SUSPENSION OF UTILITY SHUT-OFFS FOR NON-PAYMENT
Mayor Seidel issued Executive Order 2020-02 suspending utility shut-offs for non-payment. The Task Force recommends this should continue until the State of Emergency is rescinded.
CONTINUE WAIVER OF FEES ASSOCIATED WITH CITY ELECTRONIC PAYMENTS
Executive Order 2020-03 was issued by Mayor Seidel on March 19, 2020. This Order waived the payment of processing charges for e-checks and the convenience fees for credit card payments for utility payments. The Task Force recommends this should be continued until all businesses in Oldsmar are permitted to operate at full capacity under State and County guidance. This is estimated to have resulted in about $6,500 per month in unbudgeted expenses to the City of Oldsmar.
NO PROACTIVE ENFORCEMENT OF THE SIGN ORDINANCE
The Task Force recommends that the City of Oldsmar allow operational restaurants and other businesses to post large signs and banners and/or additional signs to advertise their services. In the interest of promoting businesses, the Task Force recommends there should be no proactive enforcement on the sign ordinance through August 30, 2020.
DISCOUNT OF BUSINESS TAX RECEIPTS BY THE CITY IN 2021
The Task Force recommends the consideration of a discount on required Business Tax Receipts for 2021. This would directly offset expenses for Oldsmar businesses.