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Photo Courtesy: Julie Jenkins

Corona Economics

Julie Jenkins calls for weekly Small Business Saturday to help small businesses struggling in the coronavirus economy

Small businesses are struggling to stay afloat.

A Democratic candidate hoping to unseat a popular Tampa Republican in the Florida House of Representatives is calling on Florida residents to observe Small Business Saturday every Saturday to help businesses weather the coronavirus crisis.

Julie Jenkins is running against Rep. Jackie Toledo in House District 60. She’s also a small business owner.

“Small business Saturday is traditionally a once a year event in which we shop local and try to support our local businesses who support us year round – with yearbook ads, high school sports programs, sponsoring t-ball teams, gift cards for charities, and so on,” Jenkins said noting the myriad ways many businesses give back to the communities they serve.

“However, we are living in unprecedented times for our business community. We need an ongoing, coordinated effort to resuscitate our businesses so that they may continue gainfully employing members of our community and be available to us to access normally once this is all over,” she continued.

Small Business Saturday typically occurs the Saturday following Thanksgiving and was created to promote shopping local during the busiest shopping season of the year. Consumers historically have flooded the retail market on Black Friday, but that has in recent years expanded to include the entire holiday weekend and extended even further with the emergency of Cyber Monday, making local shops and boutiques have to battle with large-scale sales often out of reach for small businesses.

Small businesses now are facing an unprecedented crisis as many businesses have been forced to close under local and statewide orders regarding social distancing.

Those that remain open have been reduced to either online sales or crippling reductions in service and traffic as Floridians largely are staying home.

“The State’s assistance is paramount for success, but it’s also incumbent upon us to do what we can, be it ordering locally online, curbside pickup, or delivery. Especially as Amazon slows its delivery of nonessential goods, this can be a time to focus on what is in our own backyard,” Jenkins said.

Jenkins herself is facing a tough challenge in her campaign. Candidates nationwide are being forced to reevaluate the way they campaign in the midst of a global pandemic. Not only are campaigns forced to shutter their operations on the ground, most voters have little appetite for political campaigning as they face mounting fears over public health and an economic crisis.

That’s left many candidates focusing their campaigns on coronavirus-related communication and outreach as opposed to fundraising or voter pitches.

Janelle Irwin Taylor has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in Tampa Bay since 2003. Most recently, Janelle reported for the Tampa Bay Business Journal. She formerly served as senior reporter for WMNF News. Janelle has a lust for politics and policy. When she’s not bringing you the day’s news, you might find Janelle enjoying nature with her husband, children and two dogs. You can reach Janelle at Janelle@floridapolitics.com.

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