Small Business Support During COVID-19

Needs Assessment

Grow Smarter conducted two rapid Community Needs Assessment during 2020. The first was completed in early April, and included nearly 200 online survey responses from local businesses as well as input from Grow Smarter’s steering committee and community leaders across the business, faith, nonprofit, and government sectors. Based on this needs assessment, Grow Smarter designed its COVID-19 response in partnership with the Foundation for a Healthy St. Petersburg, the Greenhouse, St. Pete Chamber, St. Petersburg Economic Development Corporation, One Community, SPC, St. Pete Arts Alliance, Warehouse Arts District Association, Deuces Live, and others. 

Grow Smarter conducted a second rapid Community Needs Assessment in May 2020, to ensure our efforts were still on track.

Both documents can be downloaded as PDF files below.

action plan

Based on the needs assessments described above, Grow Smarter created a comprehensive community response. These efforts are summarized below.


Business Resiliency Team program 
  • The Business Resiliency Team navigators will be based at the St. Petersburg Greenhouse.  
  • The BRT will serve as advocates for local businesses, identifying needs and helping connect them to resources and subject-matter experts 
  • BRT members will focus their outreach on minority and women-owned businesses and sole proprietors throughout St. Petersburg, with a focus on South St. Petersburg.  
 Resource Support in South St. Pete 
  • Grow Smarter will fund one year of GoZone Wi-Fi connectivity on the Deuces Live corridor, as well as two additional GoZone Wi-Fi hotspots in South St. Petersburg. 
  • Grow Smarter will support a Resource and Resiliency Hub located at thWarehouse Arts District Association to support residents who are affected by COVID-19 in partnership with Feeding Tampa Bay, Bay Area Legal Council, Deuces Live, One Community, and other organizations. 
  • Grow Smarter will provide funding to St Pete Arts Alliance to support their efforts to alleviate COVID-19 hardships endured within the arts and culture community. 
Community Investment 
  • Grow Smarter will contribute $25,000 to One Community’s #InThisTogether COVID Support program, to be distributed to businesses and residents of South St. Pete in the form of microgrants, new contracts and new gigs. 
  • Grow Smarter will create an endowed Grow Smarter Scholarship Program at SPCof which $25,000 will be distributed in 2020. The scholarship will be for certification programs in the Grow Smarter targeted industry areas. Grow Smarter will aim to amplify this investment through soliciting additional donations from other partners.