Sanford business owner’s generosity helps small business stay afloat during coronavirus pandemic

SANFORD, Fla. – The COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact small business owners many who are struggling to keep the lights on which is why a Sanford business owner went out of his way to surprise five fellow business owners to help them stay afloat during this turbulent time.

Jeff Small is the CEO and President of Advanced Composite Structures, a helicopter blade repair company. He had a meeting recently with his office manager and accountant after he saw the hardships a local business was going through on social media.

“As the discussion went on, I said, ‘Well, give me a budget ... and so with that budget, I said, ‘We can help more than just this person,‘” Small explained.

Small donated to five local businesses in his hometown, including the Central Florida Zoo in Sanford.

“It was a great surprise, you know, it’s great to know that businesses in the community see us obviously as a valued -- as a valued member to the community,” Dino Ferri, CEO of the Central Florida Zoo, said. “We have so many costs, I mean when we’re fully open and fully operational, it’s an average about $450,000 a month to run the zoo.”

Ferri said the zoo lost $1.5 million during the 8 weeks it was closed due to the pandemic.

The round of five checks from Small were distributed to Maya Books and Music in downtown Sanford, Massage Garage, Totally Yours and The Breezeway restaurant. In an email, the GM of the restaurant said:

"We are very grateful for Jeff Small's donation and his generosity. It will certainly help getting through this unpredictable time."

Small says his good deed isn’t’ about him, it’s about helping his hometown of Sanford continue to thrive toward success.

“What they’ve done in the city of Sanford in the last 10 years has just been remarkable. They’ve got great restaurants, great nightclubs, they’ve got the craft shops, antique shops. I want to continue that,” he said.

And he also wants his actions to inspire people who like him, have the means to lend a helping hand.

"Helping somebody is priceless. Sanford has done a lot of work to get it where it is today and I want to keep it going," Small said.

He said he plans to continue his selfless act in July for five more Sanford businesses.

“We’ll find the businesses that need help. We can’t help everybody, that’s why I’d like to see other people step up to keep it going but we’re gonna do what we can.”

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