By Dawn Krebs
PORT ST. LUCIE - Port St. Lucie city officials, in an effort to show support toward the many small businesses in the city, recently developed numerous programs to help connect customers with businesses.
At the Sept. 24 city council meeting, the council discussed some details of a sign ordinance that was updated in April to allow businesses to display banners three times a year, in addition to temporary banners that can be displayed during the holiday season, from Nov. 11 to Jan. 2.
One of the details they spoke about this year concerned moving up the date of the beginning of the holiday season to Oct. 15, so businesses could take advantage of Halloween.
"I'm in support of moving the date up," said Port St. Lucie Councilman Jack Kelly.
Councilwoman Michelle Berger disagreed, saying, "I feel we have our best options out there now."
In addition to the banner time frames already in place, new businesses are allowed to display a temporary banner indicating "just opened" for 30 days for no charge.
"You will have a lot of opportunities for banners," said Gregory Oravec, city manager.
The council voted 4-1 to move the start date of the temporary holiday banner to Oct. 15, with Councilwoman Berger dissenting.
The banners are part of the city's second annual Community Days, which will take place Nov. 10 through Nov.12. For those three days, the building department waived the special-event permit fees necessary for businesses in the city for that weekend.
"It is not only an opportunity for all the businesses in Port St. Lucie to promote themselves that weekend for free," said Joel Dramis of the building department, "but for local residents to find out what the business is all about and see what they have to offer."
To be qualified, businesses must have a current city business tax receipt and be in an area zoned commercial. Last year, more than 100 businesses participated in the event.
The building department is also holding a workshop from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. Oct. 17 for city residents looking to start their own business.
"We will have a variety of speakers including accountants, insurance companies and human resource professionals," said Mary Mastro, with the business department.
"That's a tremendous amount of information for someone looking to start a business or grow a business."
Workforce Solutions will also have a presence at the workshop.
"We hope to have the workshops at least quarterly," she said.
In addition, a new TV show will begin airing on the city's cable television channel, PSL TV20 the same weekend as Community Days.
The show, "Spotlight on Small Business," will be a 30-minute feature with Port St. Lucie Councilwoman Shannon Martin visiting local small businesses, talking to owners and employees and showing the variety of products and services that can be found in the city.
"With everything happening with Digital Domain, I feel it's important to show the public here in town what small businesses have to offer," Councilwoman Martin said.
"This way, we can help with economic development in our own backyard. I'm excited to be a part of it."
According to Ed Cunningham, communications director for the city, they have been busy fielding requests for interviews.
"Several have signed up," he said. "We will begin shooting in the next few weeks."
For more information on the workshop, call (772) 344-4356.