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Tampa Mayor Jane Castor unveils emergency relief fund

One Tampa, supported by the Tampa Bay Lightning, the Bucs and the Rays, will aid needy residents and small businesses during the coronavirus crisis

TAMPA - The video footage shows an empty highway, a childless playground and a vacant residential street.

"We are isolated, but we are not in this alone,'' says a narrator.

Tampa Mayor Jane Castor assumed the role of narrator Tuesday morning when she stepped before 20,000 empty seats onto the Amalie Arena center ice to announce One Tampa — a new relief fund for residents and small businesses facing economic uncertainty because of the coronavirus pandemic.

"Relief now, rise together,'' is the tagline for the fund that has drawn $100,000 donations from the Tampa Bay Lightning, Buccaneers and Rays. The goal is to raise $8 million, Castor said.

Tampa Mayor Jane Castor unveils emergency relief fund One Tampa, supported by the Tampa Bay Lightning, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Bucs and the Tampa Bay Rays, during a news conference held at Amalie Arena Tuesday. [DIRK SHADD | Times]

"This is what community is all about — being there for each other in good times and in bad,'' she said.

The video, shown on the arena’s overhead video board before Castor spoke, is part of a public service announcement for a campaign soliciting donations and directing people to the OneTampa.org website. There they can find additional information about the crisis fund that will provide grants for rent and essential utilities like water, gas and electricity.

Under the program, the city will provide eligible individuals or families one month’s rent or mortgage payment of up $1,000 plus up to $250 for utilities. The payments will go directly to landlords, mortgage holders or TECO. Small businesses in specified industries can qualify for up $4,000 in rent or mortgage payments and a maximum of $1,000 for utilities.

The city listed 38 types of "critically impacted businesses'' ranging from restaurants and food trucks to tailors, funeral homes, caterers, child care centers, cleaning services and sole proprietor consultants.

Qualified businesses must have been operating for at least five years, have fewer than five employees, have annual revenue of less than $250,000, experience a 50 percent drop in business because of the coronavirus and be physically located in the city’s approximately 30 low-income census zones or community redevelopment areas.

Castor said an estimated 1,500 businesses could qualify.

Tampa Mayor Jane Castor unveils emergency relief fund One Tampa, supported by the Tampa Bay Lightning, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Bucs and the Tampa Bay Rays, during a news conference held at Amalie Arena Tuesday. [DIRK SHADD | Times]

Individuals can begin applying Friday and business owners can start applying on Tuesday, April 21. People needing assistance with the application can dial 211 and then press 7.

This grant does not need to be repaid and is intended as a one-time stop-gap aid for people and business owners until other state and federal aid becomes available.

"If we have to go longer then we’ll just try to raise more,'' she said.

Besides the Bucs and Lightning giving $100,000 each and the Rays and Rowdies combining for a $100,000 donation, other major contributors included $50,000 from Amgen and $24,000 from The Bromely Companies.

The fundraising took on a a look if familiarity Tuesday. Castor said as she left City Hall to head to the arena, Tampa City Council member Charlie Miranda stopped her and gave her a check for $1,000.

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