ST. LOUIS — For six years, William Jones and his family have run MC Appliances on Dr. Martin Luther King Drive in the heart of north St. Louis. Like many businesses, they were hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic.
"The pandemic really did affect us all in many ways. We would like to do many things still, including hiring more staff, investing in stock and making necessary repairs," said Jones.
Much-needed help for the family's appliance shop and about 100 other businesses on the city's north side could soon be on the way.
Under the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), $37 million would be allocated for small businesses, nonprofits and neighborhood economic development.
The federal revitalization would span across North Grand, Dr. Martin Luther King Drive and other struggling north side areas.
The measure was previously vetoed by the mayor. The Board of Aldermen recently gave the COVID-relief plan the green light.
However, during Wednesday's Board of Estimate and Apportionment meeting, the bill was blocked yet again.
"This item is an item that should be moved today," Board of Aldermen President Lewis Reed said during the meeting.
Comptroller Darlene Green said she couldn't move on the multi-million dollar bill until after all grant applications from businesses are completed.
"She wants us to get applications from hundreds of businesses. She wants us to approve these hundreds of businesses before passing a law and putting the program in place. That's insanity. You can't develop the application process until Board Bill 82 is adopted," said Reed.
"That's not true," Green replied. "I'm unable to give you a vote of yes today because I don't have everything, but I don't want to continue to delay this past the month of March. We want to be working behind the scenes and not trying to put a front in front of people."
All agree that a major redevelopment project would give the north side a long overdue boost, but for now it remains up in the air.
Business owner William Jones remains hopeful.
"I'm hoping they decide to help myself and other businesses in the neighborhood. I would ask them to actually sit down and get something done," said Jones.
The Board of Estimate and Apportionment is comprised of St. Louis Mayor Tishaura Jones, St. Louis Board of Aldermen President Lewis Reed and City Comptroller Darlene Green.
They are scheduled to vote on the bill during a special meeting next Tuesday afternoon.