ORLANDO, Fla. – In a virtual meeting Monday, the Orlando city council voted to help struggling businesses survive the COVID-19 pandemic, many of those businesses closed for weeks now.
Orlando has 20 designated Main Street Programs, nonprofits that bring in money through membership and the city matches those funds of up to $50,000 each year. Those Main Street programs include: The Milk District, Audubon Park Garden District, Church Street District, College Park Partnership, Downtown South, Gateway Orlando, Ivanhoe Village, Mills 50, Orlando Tech Association and Thornton Park District.
On Monday, the city council voted to lift restrictions to allow those Main Street programs to draw money from their funds without having the required match. The city also lifted restrictions on an addition $10,000 budgeted for beatification projects.
“They will immediately be able to draw down whatever they have of their $50,000 in addition to that there is $10,000 they receive for beatification,” Mayor Buddy Dyer said outside of City Hall Monday. “So we are going to allow them to use any of that for COVID-19 related use.”
In the Milk District Main Street Program, they have launched what’s called Milk Money. It’s a coupon residents can buy for $7.50 that is good to redeem for $10 at participating businesses.
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"They get a discount when they buy it and the milk district fills that gap between the purchase price and the redemption price," said Zac Alfson, the Executive Director of the Milk District Main Street Program.
Alfson said they've already sold 1,000 Milk Money coupons and put up another 1,000 for sale on Monday.
Tanner Jones, co-owner of Easy Luck Coffee in the Milk District, said he is down 50% in sales and hasn’t seen a single penny from any state or federal assistance. He feels any little bit from the city to the customers will help keep their doors open.
"It shows they are trying and that goes a long way," Jones said. "Anything that can drive people in is a nice thing. It's a great gesture."
If you want to buy Milk Money, click here.
Alfson said Audubon Park and Mills 50 is also offering what’s called District Dollars, click here for more information.