Stepping Up To Help Fight Coronavirus

Innovative local companies are helping to bottle up the spread of coronavirus here, while others are pouring financial resources into fellow businesses.

Roger Morenc, Marlin & Barrel Distillery (Facebook photo 4/2/20)
Roger Morenc, Marlin & Barrel Distillery (Facebook photo 4/2/20)

— Steve’s Marketplace —

Editor’s note: Contributing columnist, Steve Nicklas, expresses his views and insight on various topics in Marketplace.

People Pulling Together For Common Cause

Innovative local companies are helping to bottle up the spread of coronavirus here, while others are pouring financial resources into fellow businesses.

And these bottlers and pourers are serving us in our backyard. Like the effervescent Marlin & Barrel Distillery in downtown Fernandina Beach. Or the ever-expanding Vystar Credit Union, with branches here and its headquarters in downtown Jacksonville. Each stepping up for our community at a time of need.

Marlin & Barrel owner Roger Morenc is familiar with creating desirable concoctions. The enterprising Morenc has revamped his usual successful process, however, to make hand sanitizer with the alcohol he produces.

To improve the product, Morenc is working with Amelia Island Soapery to implant a citrus fragrance into the sanitizing gel. The Soapery is a new boutique offering hand-blended bath and body products. The jointly produced bottles of sanitizer will be distributed to at-risk workers at first, to the public later.

 “What we’re doing right now is distributing to large-scale institutions with employees on the front line,” Morenc said in an interview. “Hopefully, next week we can start shipping these out to the public. The priority is to just get it out there.”

 High-proof alcohol is only one part of the sanitizing product. Morenc traveled as far as Nashville and Louisville to secure containers for the sanitizer along with other components.

Morenc is happy to see other distilleries in Jacksonville and St. Augustine also meeting the call for action. “They’re doing this for the community,” Morenc says. “We’re the ones that have been here for our community, and I think we all feel very strongly about the sense of care of our community.”

Around the U.S., residents are pulling together for the common cause. People are sewing face masks from home, automobile companies are building ventilators, while drug companies race for a cure.

Meanwhile, Vystar is partnering with the City of Jacksonville to administer $20 to $30 million of financial assistance to businesses impacted by the coronavirus. The money is designed to help small companies survive and to retain employees.

The financial relief package will likely consist of a combination of grants, loans, etc. Any local aid should not impact the eligibility to receive funds from $2 trillion federal stimulus.

The Jacksonville City Council is to take up the initiative in a special meeting. It is uncertain if a similar program will be enacted in Nassau County.

In addition, the city has created a site for recovery resources for Jacksonville businesses. The resources include express loans, bartender emergency assistance, disaster unemployment and more.

Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry says the city’s finances are strong. However, Curry added that the city’s upcoming budget will need to be completely reevaluated. We hope Nassau County and Fernandina Beach officials are conducting similar financial reviews.

Even during difficult times, we are fortunate to live in such a giving, caring area. And we are grateful for our companies – and our people – that can and will step up to help one another.

We should bottle that humanity and distribute it.


Steve Nicklas Financial Advisor
Steve Nicklas

Steve Nicklas is a financial advisor for a regional brokerage firm who lives and works on Amelia Island. He is also an award-winning columnist. His columns appear regularly in several newspapers in North Florida and South Georgia, and on his website: He has also published a book, “All About Money,” consisting of some of his favorite columns over the past 20 years. The book is available at local stores and on Amazon. He can be reached at 904-753-0236 or at [email protected].