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Wynwood’s popular Gramps closes ‘for the public good’ during COVID-19 pandemic

Gramps is closing its doors on Monday in Wynwood.
Gramps is closing its doors on Monday in Wynwood. (Local 10 News)

MIAMI – A sign taped to the main door to Gramps announced on Monday the popular bar in Miami’s Wynwood neighborhood “is closed for the public good.”

Pizza Tropical, a Brooklyn Pizzeria at Gramps, is still delivering through apps like Uber Eats and Postmates. But it’s unclear how long they will be able to stay in business.

Gramps’ owner Adam Gersten is among the first entrepreneurs to open a business in the popular neighborhood almost eight years ago. He said the decision to close is painful.

“Moneywise, yeah -- It’s a disaster,” Gersten said.

Gersten said public health official’s guidelines on social distancing, which means people should be no closer than 6 feet of each other, prompted his decision to close.

It’s a decision he made before President Donald Trump announced Monday that public health officials need restaurants, bars, gyms and casinos to close amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The number of confirmed infections in Miami-Dade County increased rapidly to 23 and in Broward County to 38, according to the Florida Department of Health.

The public health measures had some hourly workers in South Florida fearing for their jobs as they live pay-check to pay-check amid a shortage of affordable housing in Miami. With a flurry of event cancelations, Camilo Linares, a lighting designer was laid-off on Thursday and Annie Lee’s event planning business is struggling. She launched SaveTheEventIndustry.com.

Miami Commissioner Manolo Reyes sent a letter to Gov. Ron DeSantis asking him to ask the federal government to make sure that an unemployment assistance program is available to assist those with loss of wages.

“Our hard-working residents will be hit hard by this crisis, and I believe it is our duty to help them keep going and keep their families safe,” DeSantis said.

Without having lost their jobs, there were salary employees who were already researching how to apply for unemployment and food stamps overs fears of a recession.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average suffered its biggest one-day percentage loss since the Black Monday crash of 1987 and economists said the pace is faster than during the 2008 financial meltdown.

“This is like an avalanche. It’s all happening at once," Heidi Shierholz, senior economist at the Economic Policy Institute, told The Associated Press, adding that “no one knows how long it’s going to last.”

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is asking the federal government for an expansion of loans to businesses. Gov. Ron DeSantis announced Florida will be making loans available to small businesses. The Small Business Administration is also offering loans at low rates.

“Nearly 90% of businesses in Miami-Dade would be qualified as small businesses so that means nearly every business here is eligible,” said Michael Finney, the chief executive officer of the Miami-Dade Beacon Council.

Finney is encouraging every entrepreneur in South Florida to participate in a state survey as officials from the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity and the Florida Division of Emergency Management gauge the effects of the crisis.

For more information about the survey, click here, and for information about the aid available to private businesses call 850-815-4925 or e-mail ESF18@em.myflorida.com

RESOURCES

Finney says while that work is being done, state leaders have launched three resources aimed at helping small businesses with expenses and staff retention.

1: Business Damage Assessment Survey: https://floridadisaster.biz/

The state is urging business owners to complete a survey explaining the impacts of coronavirus on their business and the local economy. Finney said this data will be leveraged to design recovery programs, resources, and initiatives.

2. U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) Loans: https://www.beaconcouncil.com/business-resources-to-help-mitigate/

On Sunday, Gov. Ron DeSantis announced new SBA low-interest loans of upwards of $2 million dollars that the Beacon Council says businesses facing “economic injury” due to COVID-19 can use to “pay fixed debts, payroll, accounts payable, and other bills that can’t be paid because of the disaster’s impact.” These are also available to non-profit organizations.

3. Florida Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan Program: https://www.flgov.com/2020/03/16/governor-ron-desantis-activates-emergency-bridge-loan-program-for-small-businesses-impacted-by-covid-19/

The bridge loan program, managed by the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, will provide short-term, interest-free loans to small businesses experiencing economic injury from COVID-19. The

4. There is also an innovative Short Time Compensation Program aimed at helping business owners retain rather than lay-off staff. Run by the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, it helps employers maintain their staff by reducing the weekly working hours during temporary slowdowns to mitigate against lay-offs.

“High-quality workers that you need to keep, you can actually reduce their hours to less than full-time and then keep those employees on board and this program will reimburse the employer for that cost,” explained Finney, “the employee will get full pay and the company will be reimbursed for it.”

EMPLOYERS: To apply for the Short Time Compensation Program (required for employees to submit a re-employment claim), https://connect.myflorida.com/Employer/Core/Login.ASPX

EMPLOYEES & EMPLOYERS: Click here for more information on the FL DEO’s Short Time Compensation Program. http://floridajobs.org/office-directory/division-of-workforce-services/reemployment-assistance-programs/short-time-compensation-program-for-employees

This could help workers like Camilo Linares, a father of two now out of work after losing his job last week. Linares is a lighting designer for an audiovisual company and knew trouble was on the horizon following a flurry of sudden event cancellations. Last Thursday he received the notification that he was being laid-off. With the events industry facing a global work stoppage, finding new work in his area of expertise is nearly impossible. He worries about being able to pay the mortgage as this slowdown with an uncertain end-date continues to develop.

It is workers like Linares on the mind of Miami City Commissioner Manolo Reyes who just wrote a letter to Florida’s Governor Ron DeSantis urging him to speak to federal counterparts on how to help those now out of a job.

“In addition to your earlier request to the Federal Government to open the small business loan programs to provide relief to the thousands of small business owners that have been affected by this crisis,” wrote Reyes, “we must also not forget our workforce. I believe it is time to request from our Federal counterparts that they establish a program similar to the Federal Disaster Relief to make sure that an Unemployment Assistance program is available to assist those with loss of wages due to this national crisis. Our hard-working residents will be hit hard by this crisis, and I believe it is our duty to help them keep going and keep their families safe.“

EXISTENTIAL THREAT

Annie Lee owns the event planning business Daughter of Design. http://daughterofdesign.com/about/ She says the events and catering sector has already been hit hard since their industry first started seeing Coronavirus-related cancellations a month ago while future bookings are being wiped from event calendars. She says layoffs and business closures are already underway. This, for example, includes Joy Wallace Catering who confirmed with Local 10 News today that they have closed shop until at least the summer. https://ajoywallace.com/

EMPLOYERS: To apply for the Short Time Compensation Program (required for employees to submit a re-employment claim), https://connect.myflorida.com/Employer/Core/Login.ASPX

EMPLOYEES & EMPLOYERS: Click here for more information on the FL DEO’s Short Time Compensation Program. http://floridajobs.org/office-directory/division-of-workforce-services/reemployment-assistance-programs/short-time-compensation-program-for-employees


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