Attention business owners, nonprofit groups and city governments.
Congress approved new money from the federal CARES Act and sent it to states.
Sarasota County has $75.7 million and Charlotte County has $32.9 million up for grabs for COVID-19 relief grants.
Charlotte County commissioners designated 20% of funds ($6.58 million) for qualified businesses and nonprofits through the Recovery Grant Program. It will give $1.645 million each in grants in four stages. Nonprofits must prove revenue was lost this year compared to the same time last year.
The first series of grants will go to businesses or nonprofits affected during COVID-19. They can apply for mortgage, rent or utility costs of business operations that were interrupted or forced to close by an emergency order.
The grant can pay for costs incurred during a reopening — including new personal protective masks, hand sanitizer, safety improvements, state compliance for public access or other costs.
The online application begins for funding up to $30,000 at 8 a.m. Monday while funds last. Applicants must meet 26 qualifications established by Charlotte County.
Included in the other three future phases are vacation rental losses and those suffering economic injury.
The application requires some notarized paperwork. Applicants are reminded during the pandemic it can take time to find a notary service, but is required. Incomplete applications will not be considered.
With $75.7 million in county grants, the Sarasota County Economic Development Corporation is surveying businesses, nonprofits and local governments impacted by COVID-19. The survey focuses on safety and security, health and medical, food, water and shelter (run by nonprofits) and business/economic recovery for small business assistance.
“The Sarasota County Commission wants to know what are the needs first and then distribute grant money into four buckets (categories) of money,” said Dave Bullock, Sarasota County Economic Development Corporation interim director, who is in charge of compiling survey results from several agencies including chambers of commerce.
The information will be given to the County Commission in August.
“Right now we want help identifying the biggest needs,” Bullock said. “We are getting back hundreds of surveys each day. We are hearing from non-profits like arts and culture as well.”
Bullock said about 10% of businesses in North Port, Venice and Englewood responded to the one-page survey detailing losses or needs incurred by COVID-19 including safety, sanitation, marketing and employee compensation. The survey lists categories of potential applicants from arts/cultural, construction, healthcare, life sciences, manufacturing, hospitality, warehouse, retail or nonprofit organization/foundation.
Anyone who fills out a survey is pre-registered for updates on when the Sarasota County commissioners establish the grant criteria in August and grant availability in September.
Bullock said local government officials should fill out the surveys as well.
“Grant money can go to law enforcement or the fire service if they’ve experienced a higher demand in calls due to the pandemic,” he said.
Earlier this spring when the county had $4 million in grants, the money went fast, Bullock said.
“We opened the application process at 9 a.m. and we had enough grant applications to spend more than $4 million by 11 a.m. that day,” he said. “We know there will be a rush when the application is available. We just want businesses and non-profits countywide to have the opportunity to apply for the grants.”