During the current pandemic, small businesses across northwest Florida are struggling, but a new grant program through the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) could help.
Gulf Power has contributed $250,000 to the Florida SBDC at UWF for the creation of the Northwest Florida Small Business COVID-19 Recovery Grant program. The grant program will be available to assist small businesses across Escambia, Santa Rosa, Okaloosa, Walton, Holmes, Jackson, Washington, Calhoun, and Bay counties. Approved small businesses will receive grants of up to $5,000.
Kelly Massey, Regional Director of the Florida SBDC at UWF, said they are grateful to the leadership at Gulf Power for providing critical financial assistance to local businesses in need.
“Programs like this can sometimes be the deciding factor in whether a small business can hold on through this unprecedented health crisis or has to shut its doors for good,” Massey said in a press release. “We hope others in our community will contribute to this program so that we can help local businesses make it through these challenging times.”
One important distinction to note is that this is a grant program versus a loan, which means that if approved, a small business will not need to pay back this assistance.
“We understand that this is a difficult and unsettling time for us all, and that many of our neighbors – including small local businesses – are now facing significant financial hardship,” said Marlene Santos, president of Gulf Power. “We are grateful to be able to help the small businesses that are often the backbone and economic engine of our communities – and what makes Northwest Florida a uniquely special place to live, shop, eat and raise a family.”
Business eligibility requirements for this grant include:
- Between 2-10 employees
- Must be able to demonstrate a 25% or greater sales decrease due to the effects of COVID-19
- Business must be a for-profit, privately held small business that was established on or before January 1, 2019
Applications for the grant program will be available for download at sbdc.uwf.edu beginning April 6, and submissions of completed applications with supporting documents will be accepted from 8 a.m. April 8 to 5 p.m. April 14.
Application and backup information for businesses is available at sbdc.uwf.edu/northwest-florida-covid-19-recovery-grant-program/.