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Small business grant program opens for applications May 19

Post Date:05/15/2020 10:54 AM

Contact:  Jan Thornburg, Sr. Communications Manager   941-650-969


Sarasota, FL:  Applications for the City of Sarasota Small Business and Safety Assistance Grant Program will be accepted starting at 9 a.m. Tuesday, May 19,SBSA Grant Program Logo-01 as the City addresses the COVID-19 economic recovery phase.  Eligible small businesses in the Sarasota city limits will be awarded up to $5,000 on a first-come, first-served basis with a maximum $2.28 million in economic development funds to be dispersed.

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

Program guidelines currently are available on the grant program webpage.  Bilingual applications will be available online the day all applications begin to be accepted on May 19.

“The global pandemic has taken a severe toll on most small, independently owned brick-and-mortar businesses,” said City Manager Tom Barwin.  “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.  Defined businesses include:           

  • child, disabled and elderly care services
  • cleaning services
  • coffee shops
  • fitness centers and gyms
  • hair, beauty, and other personal services
  • laundry services
  • restaurants
  • retail
  • personal and household goods, repairs, and maintenance
  • pet care
  • small event spaces and more
  • bars and taverns

 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

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.

Completed forms will be accepted online and via fax at 941-373-7766.  Paper copies may be returned to the Office of Economic Development and City Hall.

When submitted, each application will receive a date and time stamp to determine placement in line for consideration of available funds.  Completeness of the application, eligibility of the business owner and availability of funds will be determining factors for the awarding of grants.

 It is anticipated funds could be awarded and distributed as early as the end of this month.

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. 36284


About the City of Sarasota:  Distinguished by Google as a Digital Capital in the U.S., the City of Sarasota is a diverse community located on Florida’s Suncoast with 56,000 year-round residents, several internationally recognized cultural arts venues, stunning sunsets along Lido Beach, a 45-hole municipal golf course at the historic Bobby Jones Golf Club, and Major League spring training baseball with the Baltimore Orioles.  Learn more about us at www.SarasotaFL.Gov