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BoCC approves plan to distribute CARES Act grant funds


Published on May 8, 2020


Polk County’s Board of County Commissioners has approved a plan that will help residents and small business owners left struggling financially from COVID-19 pandemic layoffs and business closures. 

In late April, the county received $126 million from the federal government’s Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act grant meant to provide relief to small businesses and residents who were either furloughed or laid off from their jobs.  Assistance will help pay for utilities, rent and mortgages, and help small businesses to remain open or reopen. The Board allocated $40 million for small business economic development needs, $30 million for health and human service needs, $30 million for community healthcare related to the coronavirus, and $26 million for county and local government’s costs and services dealing with COVID-19.

Central Florida Development Council (CFDC) is partnering with the Board to manage small business grant applications. Funding levels established by the Board for small businesses that can show they were impacted by COVID-19 include funding levels of $1,000 for those who are self-employed, $2,500 for businesses with 2 – 9 employees, and $5,000 for businesses with 10 – 25 employees.

The Health and Human Services Division and United Way of Central Florida (UWCF) will assist individuals and/or households applying for rent, mortgage and utility assistance. Individuals who have lost their job or income due to COVID-19, and reside in a household with combined income of less than $75,000, will be eligible for up to $2,000.

Both funds will be offered on a first-come, first-serve basis until the allocation is gone. The county has until December 30, 2020 to use this grant. The allocated funds to both small businesses and individuals do not have to be paid back. 

Beginning Tuesday, May 19, individuals and small business owners may apply online through the county’s website at www.polk-county.net. The online application process will require residents and business owners to fill out a form, and attach verifying documentation with the application. A complete list of eligibility requirements and required documentation is available on the county’s website at www.polk-county.net/PolkCARES2020.

Residents unable to access the website will be assisted through the application process by agencies affiliated with United Way of Central Florida. 

A call center to assist residents with questions regarding Polk County’s CARES Act financial assistance will also open on Tuesday, May 19. Call center staff will be available from 8 a.m. – 6 p.m., Monday - Saturday. The call center telephone number will be published on the website when it opens.

“Distributing this financial assistance to our small business owners and residents who are hurting from the COVID-19 pandemic is a tremendous undertaking,” said Board Chair Bill Braswell. “We appreciate our CFDC and UWCF partners stepping up to help manage the process.”

“This Board said from the beginning, that our goal was to help as many people and as quickly as possible,” Braswell said. “We are confident that county staff and our partners can achieve this.”