COVID-19 is causing the world to shut down. Although staying at home can keep people safer, it is also an action that creates severe harm to small businesses.
Florida is taking the lead on a structured reopening so that businesses can start earning some revenues once again. Although helping customers makes the world feel like it is getting back to normal, serving at 50% capacity or less still places a burden on your budget.
If you are in the countries of Pasco, Hillsborough, or Pinellas, then these helpful resources can help you to get your bills paid.
List of Resources for Florida COVID-19 Relief
1. The St. Petersburg Arts Alliance, in conjunction with the city’s Office of Cultural Affairs, recently gave out 15 grants of up to $1,000 each to local artists. Although the deadline was April 24, 2020 to get involved, keep an eye out for additional help in the future.
2. The GoFundMe Small Business Relief Fund lets you raise money to support your company. If you raise a minimum of $500 through this resource and meet eligibility requirements, then you can receive a matching $500 grant.
3. The Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan Program through the Department of Economic Opportunity helps with economic disaster lending products, job listings, benefits from the CARES Act, and re-employment assistance for anyone who isn’t working because of being deemed non-essential. More information is available on the Florida DEO website. Qualifying businesses qualify for up to $50,000 in funds with a 0% interest rate. You must have at least two employees, and the rate does go up substantially after the first 12 months.
4. The Verizon Small Business Recovery Fund is part of the weekly Pay It Forward Series. It offers grants of up to $10,000 for small business. Although it is waiting for more donations, you can sign up to receive updates for when new applications are accepted.
5. Any businesses outside of Tampa Bay may qualify for the Facebook Small Business Grants Program. The social media giant launched a $100 million program to help companies weather the economic storms created by COVID-19. More information about this resource is available through this FB page.
6. The City of St. Petersburg offers $5,000 grants to locally-owned businesses with 25 of fewer employees. These funds are called the Fighting Chance grants. If you live in the city and work at a qualifying business, then you might be eligible for a $500 grant. More information about this assistance option is available through the fund’s website.
7. The Paycheck Protection Program through the federal SBA provides small businesses with loans for payroll expenses or other needs. If you keep 90% or more of your staff employed for eight weeks, then the portion of the funds used to pay staff, mortgage costs, rent, or utilities is forgivable. More information about this popular program is available through this link.
8. If you lost income because of COVID-19, then some people may qualify for up to 12 months of suspended or reduced mortgage payments. You must contact your service to re-negotiate the terms of the loan with them. Issues with your escrow account may still require resolution if the principal and interest are no longer due. Do not stop paying your mortgage unless you have no other choice.
9. Florida stopped all evictions through mid-May for failing to pay rent. This responsibility is not forgiven. You have more time to negotiate a payment plan with your landlord through this option. If you are unable to come up with a structure that satisfies both parties, then rent assistance programs may be available to help you through this challenging time.
10. Hillsborough County residents can apply for help through the Emergency Home Energy Assistance Program or the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program, or EHEAP and LIHEAP respectively. This fun pays energy bills for households so that they don’t need to choose between groceries or electricity. Help is provided for as long as funds are available.
11. Patient support programs from Bristol-Myers Squibb have expanded to help people impacted by COVID-19 without healthcare insurance as a buffer. You can have access to needed medicine for free, including items prescribed by telehealth services. Residents in Pasco, Hillsborough, or Pinellas County can call 1 (800) 721-8909 to start the application process.