On Monday, the Osceola County Commission agreed to use 20 percent of a Federal CARES Act distribution of $16.3 million on small business assistance. Friday, the county put figures to it, announcing there would be $3.2 million allocated beginning Monday to businesses that apply beginning Monday at www.weveopenedsafely.com.

Originally, the county had set aside $500,000 for the program, and only made it available to businesses in unincorporated Osceola County. This funding distribution increases it seven-fold, and is now available to businesses throughout Osceola County, including the cities of Kissimmee and St. Cloud, and even includes home-based businesses.

Osceola County will make the funds available beginning Monday, June 29. Applications will continue to be processed in the order they are received while funds last. This is a grant, not a loan, therefore repayment is not required unless funds are not used for eligible expenses.

The businesses must be locally owned, and priority will be given to businesses that did not receive PPP or other emergency funding. Applicants must complete the Economic Damage Assessment Survey (https://floridadisaster.biz/businessdamageassessments)

To receive funding through this program, applicants must provide evidence of eligible expenses incurred during the period of February 1 and May 31, 2020.  Eligible uses include commercial rent or mortgage payments, utilities, payroll, and investments in materials or equipment necessary for reopening or operating during social distancing mandates such as Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), plexiglass barriers, etc.

The one-time grant will provide emergency funding of up to $2,500 for home based businesses, $5,000 for all businesses with 2-25 employees, and $10,000 for businesses with 26 or more employees.

“Supporting our small businesses during this pandemic is an important part of our recovery efforts,” said Osceola Commission Chairwoman Viviana Janer. “I’m pleased that we are prepared to handle these funds and to take applications that will immediately benefit the many people who have sustained crushing blows to their livelihoods because of the Coronavirus. These funds will help our businesses heal and that in turn will help our residents recover.”

Criteria and needed documents can be found on www.weveopenedsafely.com. Eligible businesses will be notified via email within two business days of receipt of the application, confirming receipt of the application and all supporting documents, and whether or not the application is considered complete. The application deadline with all supporting documents is Monday, July 27 at 5 p.m. Applicants will be notified of grant approval status via email no later than Monday, August 10.

For questions, email economicdevelopment@osceola.org.