After discussing it at Monday’s Board of County Commissioners meeting, Osceola County announced the details and application process for a round of assistance for businesses affected by the coronavirus pandemic.
County Manager Don Fisher said at Monday’s meeting the county would shift funds from its economic development efforts into the business assistance program. The Emergency Economic Relief Grant Program, will begin taking applications Wednesday at www.weveopenedsafely.com. The application deadline is June 26, with funds distributed after July 20.
Businesses in unincorporated Osceola County will be eligible to receive up to $5,000 in emergency funding. The county noted that priority may be given to owners who have not received Federal and/or state assistance dollars and to owners who are also Osceola County residents.
The funding can be used for rent or mortgage payments, utilities, payroll, and costs for equipment needed to comply with CDC guidelines for re-opening and operating like personal protective equipment (PPE).
As reported this morning, the county looks to change the application process for its residential housing program from a first-come first-served process to a three-day application process and a lottery to choose 500 recipients from the eligible pool of households in unincorporated Osceola County (not those who live within the City of Kissimmee or City of St. Cloud). The next round of funding is slated to start July 6. The County Commission plans to vote on the lottery proposal at next Monday’s meeting.
Applications for the first three rounds filled minutes after opening, leading to a string of frustrated applicants who couldn’t get into the process despite being on it at the opening time.
“The County has many obligations but finding a way to help residents who need it most is important to the County Commission, so today’s report was an encouraging development and I’m glad staff was able to address our concerns,” said Chairwoman Viviana Janer. “We hope that the refinements to the funding process and the shift in available dollars will be a godsend to those trying to recover from this crisis that has affected our physical and economic health.”
County leaders stress there is a another pool of funding from the CARES Act waiting for counties such as Osceola that did not meet the Federal population threshold of 500,000 to receive the funds directly. Osceola could receive as much as $22 million based on a study from the Florida Association of Counties, officials say.