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Charlotte CARES helping businesses get back on their feet

Many businesses, particularly small businesses have been hit hard by the pandemic. Those in Charlotte County are no exception to the rule. Federal money received by the county has already started to assist those in need.

We spoke to a couple in Charlotte County Friday whose small business has benefited from the grant money.

Chris and Debbi Rompre wanted their business to add a sweet touch to Punta Gorda. But once the virus spread, they had to close down.

“My wife and I put everything we had into this business, financially. We took a huge hit on that,” said Chris Rompre, the co-owner of TnD bakery.

Their bakery was closed for more than a month. With that came a loss of about $10,000 for the Rompres.

While that was a few months ago, they are still trying to recover from the hit they took. “We’re almost to the point where we couldn’t pay the bills, pay the rent here,” Chris added.

But, Friday, their saving grace came in the mail. “Thank you so very much! Yay,” the couple exclaimed.

In that envelope sits a check for $10,000 from Charlotte County Economic Development. The County received nearly $33 million in federal CARES Act funding and will send about $6.5 million to local businesses that are struggling.

The Rompres wanted to make sure they gave thanks. “Thank God for you guys. We tried. We tried. I mean, we are a small business, and you kind of feel like you’re down at the bottom of the totem pole,” they said.

Kay Tracy, the business recruitment manager for Charlotte County Economic Development wants small business owners like the Rompres to know the county has their back.

“You guys are really important to our economic ecosystem,” Tracy said. “We hope that you guys are back and up and running And business as usual really soon.”

TnD Bakery was one of 11 businesses that had their relief checks hand-delivered on Friday. More checks will be distributed this week.

Chris hopes other businesses can be saved the way his and his wife’s was. “The $10,000 is just going to keep us going, keep our doors open,” he said.

The Charlotte CARES Business Recovery Program will begin accepting its next round of applications on Thursday. Businesses will be granted up to $30,000 based on the number of employees they have. This includes those running vacation rentals and any business with a heavy economic impact.

Per the Charlotte CARES for Business – Recovery Grant Program – Outline, Charlotte County said, “This year Charlotte County was assigned $32.9 million from the federal CARES Act approved by Congress. 20% of those funds, $6,580,000, will be given to qualified Charlotte County businesses by electronic application through the Recovery Grant Program.  The Charlotte County Board of County Commissioners have dedicated $1,645,000 to be allocated in four separate stages by business group.”

Individuals and families can also still apply here.

The remainder of the funds are currently unallocated.

Reporter:Erika Jackson
Writer:Drew Hill
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