Community keeps veteran-owned boat repair business from going under during pandemic

Community keeps veteran-owned, boat repair business from going under amid pandemic

ST. JOHNS COUNTY, Fla. — A community is working to make sure a veteran-owned boat repair business stays afloat during this pandemic.

The local veteran-turned-business owner is making sure his employees are getting paid.

Old City Marine moved into a new location on International Golf Parkway in March.

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Owner Sean Riley said shortly after he and his team of veterans noticed a stall out in boat repair business.

“The pandemic hit and recreational boating went down,” Riley said.

According to the former Army Ranger, this is different than the challenges he faced during 10 years serving in the military.

“The one thing I told them, when we got our full team hired, was that I would go out of business before they missed a paycheck," he said. “I want to keep that promise.”

Riley said he’s exploring other avenues to make sure they get their money.

“The federal government authorized GoFundMe to partner with small businesses during this pandemic. Before we really didn’t use that as a source of income,” he said.

As of Thursday, his GoFundMe page had raised more than $7,000 -- longtime customers, anonymous families and other small businesses made donations.

“It’s been an amazing, amazing experience to have this GoFundMe campaign be so successful so that we are able to keep my employees employed during this stressful time,” he said.

Riley described the donations as a blessing -- one he knows won’t last forever.

“None of us really know when this is going to end. It could go on another four weeks, it can go another two months. It’s really going to impact small businesses in a significant way,” Riley said.