The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) awarded the Northeast Florida Community Action Agency, Inc. (NFCAA) an estimated $5 million dollars in Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act to assist the agency's COVID-19 pandemic response efforts.
NFCAA will begin accepting applications on Tuesday, August 4, 2020 for several programs designed to assist residents and households with rent, utility payments and self-sufficiency programs resulting from the COVID-19 outbreak. Individuals or households residing in NFCAA's seven county areas (Baker, Clay, Duval, Flagler, Nassau, Putnam, and St. Johns) who meet the program criteria can apply.
"We are honored to receive these additional funds to help as many residents in Northeast Florida as possible during this challenging time," said Kimberly Cobb Ray, NFCAA's Executive Director. "We recognize that some individuals that have never needed to seek assistance before might be facing hardships. We encourage families to reach out to NFCAA and see if they qualify for any of our services."
For more information on eligibility criteria and required documents, visit www.nfcaa.org. If residents are unable to access the Internet or have a language barrier, they may schedule an appointment at (904) 362-8052.
Board of Nassau County Commissioners Approve Small Business Recovery Program and Mortgage and Rent Support During COVID-19
Anxious to help small businesses recover from the devastation brought on by COVID-19 and to assist apartment dwellers and homeowners with rent or mortgage payments, the Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) held a special meeting on July 27, 2020. That meeting resulted in two programs being unanimously approved.
The first was the Nassau CARES Small Business Recovery Grant Program and the second was for the allocation of funds regarding the SHIP (State Housing Initiatives Program) to Nassau County residents to be used for rent and mortgage assistance.
David Jahosky, Managing Director of the Government Services Group (GSG), the company hired by the County to manage CARES funding, provided the presentation outlining eligibility and other criteria. Jahosky noted that GSG worked with a team that included the BOCC, constitutional officers, elected officials, municipal governments, the SBDC (Small Business Development Council) and other civic leaders, including the Chamber of Commerce.
Said Jahosky, “We need to balance eligibility and documentation as the County has the financial responsibility and the fiduciary responsibility of properly spending the federal funds but also you [the County] . . . have a need for the business community that needs help.”
He went on to say, “we’re trying to balance those two aspects in terms of getting money out into the community as soon as possible . . . and to help prevent claw-back provisions in the future.”
For the Small Business Recovery Grant Program, $2.2 million is available.
At the outset, 6,700 small businesses were identified as potential recipients. Simple math demonstrated that if evenly divided, the grant amount would be just $328 per business.
With an eye toward maximizing the benefit to the County and to the business owner, for what is a very labor-intensive
At the end of the day, the recommendation was made that for a business to apply they:
• must be “for profit” and not publicly traded
• have revenues of less than $1 million in gross annual income for 2019 and;
• have up to 9 FTEs (full time equivalent employees)
In addition, the business must:
• have been in operation since January 1, 2017
• have not received any funds covered by insurance or from the federal Payroll Protection Program (PPP) exceeding $50,000
• be fully or partially owned by a Nassau County resident and be physically located within the boundaries of the County
• be current on all federal income, payroll, sales, property and unemployment taxes.
A complete list of requirements and documents that must be provided as part of the application are illustrated on the slide below.
With those conditions met, there are projected to be 440 businesses that qualify for what will be a $5,000 grant.
The application process will begin on August 1st and to ‘level the playing field,” once an application is received, be it completed online, via email or submitted at a drop box set up at county offices, a random number will be assigned so as to avoid any long lines associated with the rush to be “first come/first-served.” Such a system will help limit any gatherings or long lines that would go against social distancing guidelines recommended as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and provide all applicants an equal opportunity for being awarded a grant.
There will be a two week “open application” period. After review of all applications, payments to the selected qualifying businesses will be sent by what is estimated to be the end of August.
Yulee High School Seniors, and twins, Xarah and Xanah Sproul have been awarded the Tipping the Scale Scholarship by the Boys & Girls Clubs of Nassau County Foundation. This award is in recognition of their hard work and successful completion of their internships with Baptist Nassau.
Boys & Girls Club members since they moved here from Chicago six years ago, both girls joined the Tipping the Scale program when they saw other teens in the program getting to go off campus and work at the hospital. They applied, interviewed, and were accepted to the program where they and other teens began internships covering a variety of professional health areas including nursing, accounting, telecommunications, radiology, health information, and physical therapy. The teens are provided with a mentor in the hospital and are paid a stipend for their work. Upon completion of the program, students are able to apply for the scholarship in their senior year.
“My favorite part about working at the hospital for the summer internship was feeling grown up. It was my first job and it was just cool to have a 9-to-5 job!” said Xarah. “The connections and bonds I was able to make at Baptist Health…helped me realize what I really wanted to do going forward in life,” added Xanah.
In addition to their hard work in this program, both young women were members of the Yulee High School Marching Band, National Honors Society, and BETA Club, as well as many other extracurricular activities. Xarah and Xanah truly exhibit the goal of Boys & Girls Clubs of Nassau to help deserving students achieve their dreams. Both of the Sprouls are headed to Saint Leo University where they intend to do their pre-med studies in Medical Humanities.
For more information on Boys & Girls Clubs of Nassau County please visit bgcnassau.org.
In August 2018, County Manager, Mike Mullin, began holding monthly meetings to make himself available to anyone wishing to ask County related questions and/or address County related issues.
Unfortunately, those meetings have been on hold since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. The County Manager’s Office has been working with our I.T. Department to establish a way to host this meeting remotely.
A Zoom meeting has been established for Wednesday, July 29, 2020 at 3:00 p.m. Below is the link that can be used to join the meeting:
Webinar ID: 829 6324 2693
Or iPhone one-tap :
US: +13462487799,,82963242693#,,,,0#,,987321# or +16465588656,,82963242693#,,,,0#,,987321#
Dial(for higher quality, dial a number based on your current location):
US: +1 346 248 7799 or +1 646 558 8656 or +1 669 900 9128 or +1 253 215 8782 or +1 301 715 8592 or +1 312 626 6799
The meeting will be hosted in the Commissioner Chambers located at 96135 Nassau Place, Yulee, FL 32097. Residents are welcome to attend, however please note that anyone entering the Chambers will be required to wear a mask. Seats have been separated to further protect individuals through social distancing.
If you have any questions, please contact the County Manager’s Office at (904) 530-6010.
With cases of COVID-19 on the rise, and the importance of being able to keep our economy going as we work to stop the spread, the Florida Chamber Safety Council wants to share with you two newly-released and very useful resources for you to operate and provide a safe work environment for your employees and your customers. This FREE comprehensive playbook compiles guidelines from multiple agencies including CDC, OSHA and Florida Department of Health, and is maintained by the safety team at the Florida Chamber Safety Council. It includes many useful tips to help your business reopen and operate safely. Following this playbook will help to ensure you, your employees and your customers can remain safe during your business' operation during the COVID-19 pandemic.
VIEW WEBINAR - This 20-minute webinar is presented by Florida Chamber Safety Council Senior Safety Manager Diego Sanchez. If you have any questions about the contents of the webinar, please contact Diego at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.flchambersafety.com.
At this morning’s meeting (July 20, 2020) of the Board of County Commissioners, County Attorney/County Manager Michael Mullin followed up on a comment made by Commissioner Bell at the last meeting of the BOCC regarding the succession plan for County Manager.
Mullin had this to say about that, “You have two choices. You can either go outside to start the process of looking for a county manager or you can do inside. My recommendation, because Mr. Pope has been the Assistant County Manager and would make a great County Manager . . .I recommend that you take that option and that if you do, you extend my term for one more month only because of Taco’s work schedule with the Cares Act and everything else we’re working on so that he can have the time to negotiate a contract with you.” Mullin went on to say that “it would let you [the Commissioners] look at what other county’s compensation packages and to do that in an orderly fashion as opposed to rushing to a deadline of September 1.
The board’s pleasure — as demonstrated by a unanimous vote of 5-0 was to extend Mr. Mullin’s contract for one month and to make Taco Pope County Manager.
Things are looking sweet for one hardworking First Coast small business. Locally owned artisan toffee company, Amelia Toffee Company, is quickly gaining national recognition for their uniquely flavored, hand made toffee.
Led by “The Toffee Lady” – Anita Comisky – ATC is rapidly garnering national attention with multiple opportunities to take their uniquely flavored luxury toffee treats (made by hand in their Fernandina Beach store) well beyond the First Coast. Not only has the company been chosen to be a vendor at this year’s Republican National Convention, their toffee is listed on Spoon University’s “Chocolate Products You Need to Try” AND is scheduled for an upcoming appearance on HSN (Home Shopping Network) for the 2020 Holiday Season!
What makes their toffee so attention-getting? Comisky thinks it comes down to two things – their artisan’s commitment to care and an unwavering attention to quality.
“We took my grandmother’s toffee recipe, from which she created candies with love for family and friends, and created an updated version with ingredients diligently sourced from local artisans and entrepreneurs whenever possible,” Comisky said. “Now, our team of skilled candy makers create every batch by hand, with all-natural ingredients and an abundance of care. It’s a far cry from mass-produced chocolates – and we think you can taste the delicious difference in every bite.”
Amelia Toffee Company is known for producing innovative yet refined toffee flavors, including Sea Salt, Coffee, Orange, Bourbon, and Key Lime – with special limited-edition seasonal flavors like Cherry and Pumpkin. All of the toffee flavors combine ATC’s rich, buttery toffee base with an exciting flavor combination, and topped with delicious dark chocolate. ATC’s artisan candy makers create each flavor in small batches with care, so each batch is as delightfully decadent as the next. The company is also recognized as a leader in the shop small business movement, and is a dedicated supporter of helping local entrepreneurs find opportunities to work and grow together.
“We are honored and grateful for these amazing new opportunities to bring our piece of the First Coast to a wider audience,” Comisky added. “Hopefully, it helps not only to expand our company, but that it helps bring more attention to the amazing talents and products that all of our local small businesses have to offer.”
Amelia Toffee Company launched in 2015 with owner Anita Comisky’s family recipe as its foundation. Comisky experimented with thousands of recipe iterations and spent years refining it to perfection. She utilizes carefully selected ingredients, including premium dark chocolate and Florida sea salt to create unique candies with no extra colorings or preservatives. A hand-crafted, small-batch toffee maker, Amelia Toffee Company is sold in all Whole Foods stores in Florida, Harris Teeter in North Carolina and more than 300 stores nationally. Their toffee can also be purchased in 10 locations on Amelia Island, including the Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island, Omni Amelia Island Plantation Resort, Amelia Island Museum of History. Toffee may also be purchased through their website, www.ameliatoffee.com. Their Amelia Island kitchen is open to the public for retail sales Tuesday and Wednesday mornings from 9 am to noon.
Amelia Toffee Company can be found on Facebook, Instagram, and online at https://ameliatoffee.com.
Olivia Hoblit, formerly the manager of Seaside Amelia Inn, has returned to Innisfree Hotels as a regional manager to oversee both the Seaside Amelia Inn and Innisfree’s all-new, dual-branded Marriott. Based in Pensacola, Florida, Innisfree Hotels plans to open the dual-branded Courtyard and Springhill Suites by Marriott property in Spring 2021.
Olivia has more than 22 years of experience in the hospitality industry, holding a wide range of titles. Following her five-year stretch as general manager of Seaside Amelia Inn, Olivia joined The Ritz-Carlton on Amelia Island, a Five-Diamond luxury resort as the assistant rooms executive. While at The Ritz-Carlton, she served as a member of the opening team, successfully reopening St. Thomas location in 2019. She was also nominated as “Marriott Ops Star” for going above and beyond operational expectations. Olivia hopes her new role as regional manager will add to her accolades.
“It’s exciting for me to be back home with the Innisfree family,” she said. “Innisfree has always been big on community involvement, and it’s an honor to be part of the growth on Amelia Island and the opportunities it will bring to this community.”
The dual-branded Marriott will feature a SpringHill Suites and Courtyard with shared amenities, including a resort-style pool deck with in-pool seating, a courtyard with fire pit area and poolside bar, fitness room, 6,086 sq. ft. of meeting space and a location within walking distance of the Atlantic Ocean.
“I’m very excited to manage this portfolio and achieve new things with a successful company like Innisfree,” she said. “And I’m glad it’s right here in my hometown.”
Bolstering her workplace success, Olivia has served on the Executive Committee of the Florida Restaurant Lodging Association (FRLA) as Lodging Director/Secretary-Treasurer since 2017 and will take the reins as Vice Chairwoman in 2021. She also serves as a board member on the Amelia Island Tourist Development Council (TDC), Advisory Council member for the University of West Florida Global Hospitality and Tourism Management and President of the Trinity Love Hoblit Foundation, which supports and funds neurological research, training and treatment for brain aneurysms, strokes and other cerebrovascular conditions both nationally and internationally.
For more information about the Seaside Amelia Inn, visit the website at www.seasideameliainn.com. Follow Innisfree Hotels on Facebook and Instagram @innisfreehotels for updates on the opening of the SpringHill Suites and Courtyard on Amelia Island.
About Innisfree Hotels
For more than three decades, Innisfree Hotels has expertly developed and managed dozens of hotels in partnership with many of the world’s most-recognized hotel brands. Today, the company owns or manages 3,470 hotel rooms and employs approximately 2,000 people . Innisfree is the largest beachfront hotel owner-operator on the Gulf Coast, with 14 Gulf-front properties totaling 2,128 rooms.
Innisfree is a triple bottom line company, measuring success not only in profits but also through its impact on people and on the planet. To these ends, Innisfree strives to promote a culture of responsibility and service to humanity. A value-driven corporate culture enables the company to have a deeper understanding of the needs of its guests, partners and clients, resulting in service that ensures fun and memorable experiences. The company’s headquarters is in Pensacola, Florida.
Police Chief Jim Hurley has announced the formation of a Police Department Advisory Board to provide insight and counsel on department issues and policies, and to further help build strong personal relationships and trust between police officers and community members.
The twelve members of the board will each serve a one year term and will meet with the Chief and department staff both one-on-one and in small groups. “The uncertainty of Coronavirus helped to shape the structure of this advisory panel, but I plan to utilize Zoom meetings and email to communicate on a regular basis with members,” said Hurley. The Advisory Board will be asked to weigh in on current and controversial topics, community perceptions, and organizational trends, and will regularly review police tactics, training and policies.
This inaugural board will consist of the following individuals; Samir Gupte, Chief Change Officer at Samiracles Consulting; Bishop Thomas Coleman, President of the Nassau County NAACP; Rick Keffer, local businessman and well-known community leader; Judge Lester Bass, Fourth Circuit Court; Vicki Cannon, Nassau County Supervisor of Elections; Wendell McGahee, local community activist; Senator Aaron Bean, (R) Fernandina Beach; Rev. Nicole Campbell, Elm Street Church of God; Edward Brown, Principal at Fernandina Beach Middle School; Sherri Mitchell, Interim Executive Director of the Nassau County Economic Development Board; Wayne Peterson, Union President at Rayonier Advanced Materials; and Medardo Monzon, a retired management consultant.
“Although police reform, fueled by violent police confrontations nationwide, remains an important focus of this group, I anticipate that the group will push into several other areas, such as institutional racism and obstacles to minority success, as well as local business and educational opportunities,” Hurley said. Community members are encouraged to reach out to any advisory board member to share thoughts or concerns or they may contact Chief Hurley directly to participate in this ongoing discussion.
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