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Polk Co. grants target small business owners, workers who have not accessed COVID-19 aid

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POLK COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – Small business owners and workers with income loss related to COVID-19 are eligible for new grant federal money administered by the “Polk CARES 2020” program.

“We’re trying to help people who had no other access to any kind of help,” said Mianne Nelson, Polk County communications director.

Polk County made access to this $126 million in CARES Act funding eligible only for people who have not previously received any pandemic-related financial assistance.

The application process goes live on polk-county.net/polk-cares-2020 Tuesday.

“I want to make sure people understand this is a grant, it is not a loan program,” she said. “People apply. They’re given the money. They might be asked to help audit the program after we’re done to make sure we use the funds the way the government attended.”

Small business owners who can show they were impacted by the pandemic can apply for $1,000 if they are self-employed, $2,500 for businesses with 2-9 employees and $5,000 for businesses with 10-25 employees.

People in households with a combined income of less than $75,000 can apply for $2,000 in rent, mortgage and utility assistance. They must show proof they lost income due to the pandemic.

The money is available on a first come first serve basis.

“Getting online as quickly as you can tomorrow to start the application process, getting your paperwork ready ahead of time today and having everything together tomorrow when the application starts is really key,” said Nelson.

Information regarding what documentation is required can be found on the website.

It includes valid photo ID, 2019 Income Tax return, or your 2018 tax return and the most recent paystubs for the past 60 days and Utility invoice, and/or mortgage or rent bill for those applying for the housing/utility assistance.

Business owners must provide copy of active state business registration from Florida Division of Corporations, W3 Summary or IRS Form 941 prior to February 15, 2020 (businesses with 2-25 employees only) and information to estimate your company’s average monthly expenses for wages, business utilities, and commercial lease (or mortgage interest), and other business expenses before February 15, 2020.

Solo proprietors must provide W-9, DBA, Employer ID Number, or Social Security number.

Nelson said the goal is to have checks ready for recipients ten days after the application is accepted.

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