New Pinellas CARES programs expand help for local businesses

PINELLAS COUNTY — More than 3,200 small business owners have received emergency grants since the initial Pinellas CARES program launched in May, but more help is on the way for a broad range of businesses still struggling from the impacts of COVID-19.

Pinellas CARES is now offering expanded grant funding for Pinellas-based businesses most affected by the pandemic: generally, those that were required to shut down or whose customers were required to shut down or stop doing business.

Businesses that make $3 million or less in gross annual revenue may qualify for up to $10,000 in grant assistance based on a sliding scale.

A detailed list of all program qualifications and a link to the online application can be found at: https://covid19.pinellascounty.org/pinellascaresbusiness.

Applicants are strongly encouraged to take their time to submit a full application, including all required documentation, for the quickest response. Grant awards will be made based on complete and eligible applications, not based on how early a partial application is submitted – submitting an incomplete application will delay the review process.

The expanded Pinellas CARES business program is part of a larger series of programs funded by the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. The Pinellas County Commission approved Pinellas CARES programs to support individuals, families and critical nonprofit services, and to bolster the local COVID-19 public health response.

For a full program overview, visit http://cares.pinellas.gov.

Local Business Grants Overview

Qualifying business owners can use a single online application to be considered for one of the following grants:

  • Sliding Scale Grants: $2,500 to $10,000 grants for businesses making between $17,000 and $3 million in gross annual revenue.
  • Health & Safety Matching Grants: up to $10,000 to assist Target Industry businesses in implementing COVID-19-related upgrades and safety precautions.
  • Business Diversity and Arts Microgrants: help impacted business owners with barriers to participation in other grant programs strengthen their business through direct financial assistance and professional services, including help with post-COVID business planning, record-keeping and preparing documents needed to apply for other types of grant funding.

Larger businesses and nonprofit organizations are not eligible for Pinellas CARES Local Business Grants.

CARES Funds can only be used to reimburse losses caused by COVID-19 that are not paid by insurance or by another federal grant or program. These costs may include employee wages, vendors, rent or other business expenses.

Businesses that have already applied for or received funding from local city grant programs are still eligible for this program, and businesses that apply for this program may also apply for current or future local city grants.

Pinellas CARES Overview

Pinellas County received $170 million in federal CARES funding to address the community’s most pressing needs related to COVID-19. In addition to the business grants, Pinellas CARES supports the following programs:

Financial Assistance for Individuals and Families: Rent, mortgage and utility assistance up to $5,000 per household for overdue bills since March 1, 2020. Applicant will be asked to sign a form attesting to job or income loss from COVID-19, that they have no more than $10,000 in cash, checking or savings, and will need to send pictures of documents verifying U.S. and county residency. To apply, text the word COVIDCARES to 898211.

Nonprofit & Child Care Support: Nonprofits that have seen a rise in demand for services and programs due to COVID-19 can apply for assistance through the Pinellas Community Foundation, while licensed child care providers can receive a one-time grant up to $10,000 through the Early Learning Coalition.

Pinellas CARES also supports several other countywide initiatives, including: bolstering local pandemic response through increasing local capacity for testing, contact tracing, skilled nursing, personal protective equipment (PPE), community health educators, other public health measures, and workforce reemployment programs.

The County developed the above programs based on broad public input, including an online community conversation and a survey that garnered 1,114 responses.

More Pinellas CARES program information can be found at: http://cares.pinellas.gov.

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