TYBEE ISLAND, Ga. (WTOC) - UPDATE: Tybee City Council voted Thursday night to save the money that the city usually spends on July 4 fireworks.
The money, around $25,000, with be added to the general fund after a motion passed 5-1 at Thursday’s council meeting.
Several ideas were floated around, including dispersing to small businesses, bonuses for city employees and using the money on infrastructure projects.
OLD STORY: The money the City of Tybee Island usually spends on July 4 fireworks is $25,000. But since fireworks were canceled, the city is deciding if they should put this money into the hands of local business owners.
The Tybee Island Development Authority/Main Street Program is committed to helping businesses impacted by COVID-19.
"It is 99 percent mom and pop. So, we have been trying to come up with any way that we can to help these businesses weather this storm,” Development Authority Executive Director Michelle Owens said.
On Monday, the city launched the business recovery grant program. The $20,000 going toward this program comes from a repurposed facade grant the city already approved for the fiscal year.
"They can pay their rent or a mortgage. They can pay utility bills if they need to,” Owens said.
So far, 10 businesses have put in an application. It's based on a first-come, first-serve basis and can assist up to 40 businesses. Each business would get $500 if 40 apply.
"We've had added expenses that we just weren't prepared for like cleaning, like to-go containers,” Huc-A-Poos owner Heather Rogers said.
This $500, the Huc-A-Poos owner said, could pay for about one week worth of paper products for to-go orders.
"Every little bit helps us at this point. I know all businesses are feeling the pinch of that,” Rogers said.
"If we can get additional funds into that program or find another way to get the money to them, we can probably help twice as many businesses,” Owens said.
This is exactly what city council will be discussing Thursday in their regularly scheduled council meeting. The idea is to take the $25,000 the city was going to use for the Fourth of July fireworks and put it toward helping more businesses recover.
"We want to spread the money as far as we can. If there were other businesses that wanted to get the funds and didn't get their application in before the money was all used, then we would go back and look at those businesses as well,” Owens said.
The Development Authority is also doing a promotion as an incentive to get customers in the door.
"If you spend $25 in any participating Tybee business, you can earn a $5 gift certificate from Main Street and we're calling these Sand Dollars,” Owens said.
The Sand Dollars program will run all summer until August 31. Businesses can reach out to Main Street to participate.