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Sarasota City Commission Approves COVID-19 Grant Program

Small business operators can use grant money for such things as rent, mortgage payments and payroll.
Small business operators can use grant money for such things as rent, mortgage payments and payroll.

The City of Sarasota has approved a grant program aimed at helping small businesses impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.

The initiative would help stabilize struggling small businesses with grants up to $5,000. Money would come from $2.2 million in economic development funds.

The grant program is still being finalized-- but will be eligible to businesses with 25 employees or fewer. Grants will be awarded on a first come first served basis.

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Commissioner Hagen Brody said the program will help the city's small businesses get back on their feet after being shuttered in the wake of COVID-19.

“What we’re trying to do is buy these businesses time,” he said. "This is money that they’ve paid-- for the most part-- through their taxes into the city fund. They need this money so bad right now.”

“I’m glad to see us doing this sort of program to try to at least offer some small help to the businesses in or community,” added Commissioner Liz Alpert. “I’m hoping that this may make the difference between people being able to reopen their business or not.”  

Eligible businesses include restaurants, bars, retail stores, childcare operators, gyms, and hair stylists.

Officials say the city will be able to offer approximately 450 grants. Businesses that received money from the Small Business Administration would not be eligible for the program.

City Manager Tom Barwin said staff will immediately begin finalizing an application process. 

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