Gulfport Uses Federal COVID-19 Funds To Send Everyone $25 – With One Catch

At Stella’s in Gulfport, owner Barbara Banno says the impact of the pandemic last year was quite severe.

“And it was the locals that came out and really supported us and got us through it, and all the small businesses, we really joined forces in that time,” she said.

Now is the time, she says, to give some of that back.

Gulfport Mayor Sam Henderson announced that the city is using $410,000 of federal American Rescue Plan Act funding to establish a program that will help boost the local economy.

“We wanted to put money directly into people’s pockets at a time of year when most of us could probably use it,” the mayor said in a pre-recorded video on the city’s website.

Beginning Dec. 10, the city will mail $25 gift cards to Gulfport residents — a total of $50 for each household. Those gift cards can be spent until January 10 at any participating business in the city – recognizable by a sticker in the shop window.

An example of the sticker shown by participating companies.

Both Barbara and neighboring business owner Kelly Wright have applied.

“It’s a win-win situation,” Banno offered. “It’s a win for them for them around the holidays, they’re getting some money. And it’s a win for the companies here that, because of COVID, were struggling.”

Businesses that receive gift cards as payment can exchange them for a cash check from the city.

“It won’t cost the businesses or the residents anything. The money goes back to the community,” said Wright, co-owner of North End Tap House, right next door to Stella’s.

But right now, less than a quarter of Gulfport’s 220 companies have signed up on the Gulfport City website.

“There are eligibility requirements, like being affected by COVID, but once you sign up, you’re put on a list that goes out to residents along with the vouchers,” Wright said.

The deadline to register as a company to participate in the program has been extended to Monday 29 November.

LINK: Details are at: https://mygulfport.us/rebound/

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