During the past few months, South Florida businesses have taken a financial hit due to COVID-19. With major eateries and other businesses forced to shut their doors, it has been a difficult year for many. But in the City of Hollywood, the Backing Business initiative has helped many businesses survive. For Mark Rowe, owner of Mickey Byrne’s Irish Pub in Downtown Hollywood, the Backing Business initiative launched by the City helped Rowe keep the pub’s doors open.
The City of Hollywood’s Backing Business efforts are aiding businesses impacted by COVID-19. Under the initiative, the Temporary Café Zone Expansion Program was developed, allowing food establishments to expand their outdoor dining space to operate successfully and serve the public safely. The Café Zones were implemented on the Hollywood Beach Boardwalk and Downtown Hollywood, where Mickey Byrne’s is located.
“The Café Zone has been a great help to everyone in Downtown Hollywood. When we were allowed to reopen, the order had us open only up to 50% capacity inside. So right away we lost 50% between the tables inside plus the social distancing. We were struggling for space outside, so the fact that the city decided to do the Cafe Zones, it was of great help,” Rowe told me in a zoom call this week.
In addition to the Café Zones, the Backing Business Initiative also includes programs for smaller businesses. The Micro-Enterprise Small Business Assistance Program uses federal funds to give grants to establishments that have 5 or fewer employees and were shut down due to COVID-19. With this program, the City expects to award at least 95 approved grantees. Eligible businesses can receive grant funds of up to $5,000 to pay for up to three months of allowable business expenses.
“These grant dollars are to pay for salaries of employees, PPE for staff and customers, help pay for rent, mortgage assistance and utilities,” said Herb Conde-Parlato, Economic Development Manager for the City of Hollywood.
Many business owners, like Rowe, have managed to structure new ways to keep their establishments open. With the help of the City’s collaboration with Broward SCORE, business owners in the City of Hollywood can seek advice and access educational one-on-one business mentoring programs that give them information on running a business during a pandemic at no cost to them. These resources are also available to the City’s start-up community.
“Our relationship with SCORE has been long standing, but during these months it has definitely picked up. SCORE came to us providing COVID-19 related informational seminars and workshops tailored to our business owners in the city,” said Conde-Parlato.
Mickey Byrne’s has been in business in the City of Hollywood for 12 years and Rowe says the City has always focused on ways to improve the atmosphere for businesses and customers.
“The past few years the City has gone through great strides to make Downtown Hollywood even more successful. I think going forward even after all of this, people will realize that being outside in the City of Hollywood is the best way to go,” said Rowe.
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