The Sarasota Journal

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City opens small business grant program

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SARASOTA –– Small businesses within the city of Sarasota that may have missed out on the county’s larger small business assistance grants have another chance to get help.

City officials will begin accepting applications Tuesday, May 19, for up to $5,000 in grant funding to assist them in responding to the COVID-19 crisis.

City commissioners have committed $2.28 million in economic development funds to the program.

Applications will be accepted until the allotted program funds are exhausted.  Over 300 small businesses are expected to be approved for a grant.

“The global pandemic has taken a severe toll on most small, independently owned brick-and-mortar businesses,” City Manager Tom Barwin said in a press release.  “Unlike federal and state programs, our grant application and reporting process is simple and streamlined for a fast turnaround. We applaud Mayor Jen Ahearn-Koch and the City Commission for advancing this initiative, which redirects previously approved economic development funds to help our smallest businesses at this critical stage in the recovery.  Conceived to save jobs and the availability of goods and services in our special community, we urge all residents to shop locally as the economy reopens.”

To be eligible, a business must have a physical structure located in the city limits with 25 or fewer full-time equivalent employees. Additionally, 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
  • utilities

Program guidelines and a bilingual application are available at

While online submittal is preferred, the application may be downloaded and completed by hand.  In addition, paper copies will be available for pickup and drop off at two locations:

  • Office of Economic Development, 1782 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Way
  • City Hall, 1565 First St., Room 112

Both locations will be open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday, May 19 as well as Wednesday, May 20, if the program is still open for applications.

For more information about the City of Sarasota Small Business and Safety Assistance Grant Program email CitySmallBusinessGrant@SarasotaFL.Gov  or call 941-263-6000 ext. 6284.

Warren Richardson
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