Editor’s note: Contributing columnist, Steve Nicklas, expresses his views and insight on various topics in Marketplace.
While many local businesses remain on life support awaiting government stimulus funds, there are reinvigorating breaths of air circulating.
First and foremost, $1.3 billion of federal funds is stalled at Gov. Ron DeSantis’ office. Some of these funds may be funneled to smaller cities and counties for coronavirus relief, including Nassau County and Fernandina Beach.
County officials have committed to sharing these federal funds with local businesses, while city leaders are waiting to decide. Fernandina Beach officials have donated $5,000 for protection equipment for city businesses, however. A decision on the federal funds should come within the week.
Chamber Of Commerce
Regina Duncan, the president of the Nassau County Chamber of Commerce, has been working tirelessly since March to secure local loans and grants for struggling businesses. For instance, businesses in Duval County have borrowed money through a popular program involving Vystar Credit Union (nothing like this has been arranged here through the county or city).
Meanwhile, businesses of all shapes and sizes have reopened in Northeast Florida. Many have found immediate success, but could still use a financial boost. And a significant boost of economic activity might be right around the bend.
Republican National Convention
The Republican National Convention is reportedly coming to Jacksonville – or at least most of it. The convention is scheduled for Aug. 24-27, and it would bring national attention to our area.
The site of the convention has been contested. It originally was to be in Charlotte, N.C., but the governor there has refused to commit to a packed-house event with the coronavirus threat.
So Republican officials are currently scouting out alternative sites, including Dallas, Nashville, and Atlanta. But the front-runner is Jacksonville, according to multiple reports. The biggest challenge for Jacksonville is housing 50,000 guests in hotel rooms.
While the final decision will come this week, area hotels are being booked for those days. Online sites like hotels.com show those days fully booked at both the Ritz-Carlton and Omni hotels on Amelia Island.
Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry has lobbied hard to host the convention, with backing from DeSantis. The four-day event generates an estimated $200 million of economic activity for the host city, and these monies will circulate up to Amelia Island.
The Veteran’s Memorial Arena in Jacksonville could fit the required number of attendees over the four days. While business operations for the convention may still operate out of Charlotte, the main events will be held elsewhere. Republican committee members are also visiting Nashville this week.
When Jacksonville hosted the Super Bowl in 2005, cruise ships were docked here for additional rooms. Obviously, cruise ships may not offer an ideal setting, with the potential spread of the virus.
For now, local businesses will keep their hands out for any stimulus funds that come their way. This is for temporary relief. Renewed economic activity will provide permanent relief – and wash their hands with prosperity.
Steve Nicklas is a financial advisor for a major 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 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].