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Applications for the City of Sarasota Small Business and Safety Assistance Grant Program will be accepted starting at 9 a.m. Tuesday, May 19, as the city addresses the COVID-19 economic recovery.  Eligible small businesses in Sarasota city limits will be awarded up to $5,000 on a first-come, first-served basis, with a maximum $2.28 million in economic development funds to be dispersed. Applications will be accepted until the allotted program funds are exhausted. More than 300 small businesses are expected to be approved for a grant.

Program guidelines and a bilingual online application are available on the grant program webpage. To be eligible, a business must have a physical structure located in the city limits with 25 or fewer full-time equivalent employees. Defined businesses include child, disabled and elderly care services; cleaning services; coffee shops; fitness centers and gyms; hair, beauty, and other personal services; laundry services; restaurants; retail; personal and household goods, repairs, and maintenance; pet care; small event spaces and more; and bars and taverns.

Applicants will be required to provide a plan detailing how the funds will be expended.  Eligible uses include personal protective equipment (PPE) for COVID-19; software, equipment, or physical improvements needed to meet social distancing guidelines; business operations including inventory, supplies and materials; payroll; rent or mortgage payments; retention of equipment; and utilities.

Online submissions are preferred; however, the application may be downloaded and completed by hand. In addition, paper copies will be available for pickup and drop off at the city's Office of Economic Development, 1782 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Way, and City Hall, 1565 First St., Room 112. When submitted, each application will receive a date and time stamp to determine placement in line for consideration of available funds.  Completeness of the application, eligibility of the business owner and availability of funds will be determining factors for the awarding of grants.

The city anticipates funds could be awarded and distributed as early as the end of this month.

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