St. Lucie Recovers Small Business Assistance Grant Program

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the purpose of the St. Lucie Recovers Small Business Assistance Grant Program?

The St. Lucie Recovers Small Business Assistance Grant Program offers emergency economic relief and a rapid infusion of capital to smaller businesses that were hardest hit in St. Lucie County during the COVID-19 pandemic. Funding is available to businesses economically injured due to the pandemic and businesses government mandated to close or curtail operations due to COVID-19. They include small businesses in hardest hit industries such as hospitality, retail, entertainment, food and beverage, and personal services.  This grant is for expense reimbursement for paid or past due bills from March 1, 2020 to May 31, 2020 and cannot be used to replace lost income.

What businesses qualify for this funding?

Small businesses in St. Lucie County directly affected by state and local business closure orders related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Please keep reading for specific eligibility criteria.  Businesses with up to 3 employees will be eligible for grants up to $5,000; businesses with 4 to 10 employees will be eligible for grants up to $7,500 and businesses with 11 to 25 employees will be eligible for grants up to $10,000.  Grants will be limited to businesses with documented revenue under $2 million.

What can these funds be used for?

Grants may be used to cover expenses during a COVID-19 related forced closure and incurred to safely reopen. Grant funds will not be approved to replace lost revenue.

Grant funding may be used for business expenses, such as employees’ wages, mortgage, rent, vendor invoices, utility bills, payroll and other costs, so long as these expenses are not paid for by insurance or another federal assistance program.  Applicants will need to submit invoices and corresponding proof of payment for expenses from March 1 to March 31, 2020. 

If I’m approved, how quickly will I receive assistance?

Complete applications with all required documentation will be reviewed on a first-come, first-served basis. Depending on the number of applicants, it may take several weeks from the date of application submission for eligible business owners and individuals to  receive funding. 

St. Lucie County is committed to helping our small businesses in need of aid as quickly as possible. Due to the widespread impact of the pandemic to our local community, we anticipate a high volume of requests.

 

What is the application deadline? 

St. Lucie Recovers Small Business Assistance Grant program – will begin accepting applications at 9 a.m. on September 3, 2020. The application period will close on September 30, 2020 or when grant funds are depleted.

 

Which Businesses Qualify to Apply, Which Do Not and Why? 

Which businesses qualify for the St. Lucie Recovers Small Business Assistance Grant?

Businesses are eligible for up to $10,000 if it meets ALL of the following criteria:

  • Business is physically located within the boundaries of St. Lucie County, Florida.       
  • Business occupies commercial space within St. Lucie County.
  • Business has been operating since at least December 31, 2019.
  • Business can demonstrate ongoing business operations as of February 29, 2020.
  • Business is expected to return to full operations after local and state emergency guidelines during COVID-19 are rescinded.
  • Business is not a publicly traded company.  
  • Business was government ordered to close or curtail operations and suffered from business interruption caused by required closures resulting from the COVID-19 public health emergency. Businesses deemed ESSENTIAL by government order are not eligible for this grant.
  • Business suffered economic damages from business interruption caused by COVID-19 exceeding $1,000 from March 1, 2020 to May 31, 2020, excluding those covered by insurance or reimbursement from any federal program.
  • Business employed 25 full-time equivalent (FTE) employees or less, including the owner, as of February 29, 2020.
  • No owner, officer, partner or principal has been convicted of a financial crime within the last three years.
  • Business is not operating in violation of any state, federal or local laws.

 

Am I eligible if I meet some, but not all, of the eligibility requirements?

No, a business must meet ALL eligibility requirements to be eligible.

 

How do I know if my business suffered economic damages from business interruption caused by COVID-19 exceeding $1,000 since March 1, 2020 to May 31, 2020, excluding those covered by insurance or reimbursement from any federal program”?

Your business needs to be able to attest it suffered at least $1,000 in business expenses due to COVID-19 related closures from March 1 to May 31, 2020, and provide invoices, paid receipts, past due bills or contractor proposals (for March 1, 2020 to May 31, 2020) to support the damages. You may also want to consider whether you had new or increased expenses due to COVID-19 such as cleaning supplies, building or equipment modifications, and/or personal protective equipment. Remember, if insurance and/or reimbursement from any federal program will cover revenue losses or additional expenses, these amounts must be deducted when calculating “economic damages”.  Grant funds will not be approved to replace lost revenue.

Can the grant funds be used to pay for business losses that are paid by insurance or another federal program?

No.

What types of businesses qualify?

 

Why are only these types of businesses getting assistance?

These business types were selected to receive assistance because they were required to close by government “Safer-at-Home” orders or, in the case of food service and lodging establishments, were severely impacted by these orders. For example, while restaurants have been allowed to remain open for carryout or delivery, this change in operations resulted in a significant loss of employment and revenues. Many restaurants were not able to adapt and closed entirely. Another example is lodging establishments. Typically, this time of year occupancy in hotels and motels would be about 90%. Recently it’s been as low as 17%. That’s an 80% reduction in income.

Are only non-essential businesses required to close under the Governor’s Order eligible?

No, restaurants and lodging establishments who were forced to curtail operations are also eligible to apply. No other essential businesses are eligible.

Can an owner with a short-term rental property apply for this grant?

Yes, short-term rental property businesses meeting all other grant eligibility conditions including employee size, revenue and commercial business location and collect and remit Tourist Development Tax are eligible.

Do home-based businesses qualify?

No.  Home based businesses are encouraged to apply for assistance through the County St. Lucie Cares program at https://recoverstlucie.org/cares-act/.

Do all commercial locations qualify?  What about hair salons?

One of the most common questions we’ve received is about hair salons and other independent contractors at commercial locations. Many businesses have a state occupational license and rent a location in someone’s facility.  If you are renting a commercial office, chair, or other space; maintain a State occupational license for your profession; and otherwise meet the grant criteria you are eligible.

You will need to submit your State professional license and your rental agreement.

If you operate out of a spare room in your home you are considered a home-based business and will not qualify. You must document you operate your business from a separate structure listed as a commercial structure in the County property appraisers’ database.

I receive compensation from 1099s.  Do I qualify?

Only if you operate your business from a commercial location where you lease or own the facility and otherwise meet the eligibility requirements.  You must own a business run from a commercial location and have a business license. 

What if I own my own business, but have no employees?  Do sole proprietors and partnerships qualify?

As long as you meet all of the other eligibility requirements, you may still apply for a grant.  As the business owner (or owners in the case of a partnership) you are considered the sole employee(s).  In the roster “Staffing Documentation” portion of the application you will be required to submit a statement certifying you have no employees or contract workers.

Is my short-term rental property eligible for this grant if I claim a homestead exemption?

No.  If you claim the homestead exemption on your short-term rental property, your business is not eligible for this grant.  In fact, because home-based businesses of any type are not eligible, the Principal Business Address on your application form cannot be homesteaded on the property appraiser’s records.

Do contractors, plumbers and carpenters qualify for the St. Lucie Recovers Small Business Assistance Grant?

No, because they are an essential service and have been allowed to continue to operate.  This is true whether they have a physical commercial location, or they just operate out of their vehicles. Flooring, tile, door and window contractors also do not qualify.

Can I apply if my business was deemed non-essential?

Companies that were deemed non-essential under the statewide stay at home order and the county’s safer at home order and forced to close are eligible for the grants, as long as they meet all other eligibility criteria.  If your business is not specifically mentioned as either essential or non-essential in these documents, but you had a commercial storefront and were forced to close it by law enforcement, you will likely qualify for a grant as long as you meet the other eligibility requirements.  Please attach evidence of the forced closure in the “Active State Business Registration” portion of the application. No business listed as essential will be eligible, except for restaurants and lodging establishments. 

Which essential businesses qualify for the St. Lucie Recovers Small Business Assistance Grant?

There are only two essential business segments that qualify.

  • One is restaurants/food service establishments. That is because they were allowed to remain open but could only do carryout or delivery.  Many restaurants with seating indoors would have 50 employees before and they’re down to three or four now.  Their sales have slumped proportionately as well, so they’re taking significant losses.  We want to try to help those businesses continue to operate. They represent the sense of place we have in the community and are part of what makes St. Lucie County unique.
  • The other is lodging establishments. Typically, this time of year occupancy in hotels and motels would be about 90%. Recently it’s been as low as 17%. That’s an 80% reduction in income. These establishments are a significant part of our economy.  We want to keep those small lodging establishments operating, as they also add to our unique sense of place in St. Lucie.

Do non-profits qualify?

No.  Eligible businesses must be operated for-profit and be privately owned.  Non-profits and faith-based businesses are encouraged to apply for assistance through the County St. Lucie Cares program at https://recoverstlucie.org

Are realtors registered as S-Corps eligible?

No, realtors do not qualify.  Realtors were specifically listed under Essential Businesses, and not required to close.

The Application

What documentation do I need to provide?

Applications must include all documentation listed below. The application may be delayed or denied if all required information is not provided in a legible form.  Uploaded documents must be in .jpg or .pdf format.

Depending your business type, you will also need to upload the following completed documents with your application (there are a total of 10 categories):

D.1. thru D.9. are REQUIRED for all applications.  D.10. may or may not apply to your business.  Click on the blue underlines for links to forms or more information as needed.

  • D.1. Scanned copy of the front and back of the business owner or principal’s driver’s license or state identification card. (Required)
  • D.2. Completed and signed W-9 form for business.  (W-9 form for business.) Note: the W-9 DBA, Tax ID Number (or Social Security Number for sole proprietor), and Mailing Address for Grant Check must match entries in General Information section of the application. (Required)
  • D.3. St. Lucie County Direct Deposit Authorization Form (required to enable payment). (add link) (Required)
  • D.4. (Required) Copy of “active” state business registration from Florida Division of Corporations (SunBiz) showing the business was operating prior to March 1, 2019.  Search by “Entity Name” here (use full legal business name as depicted on your Business Tax Receipt or Sunbiz), select listing with “Active” status, and attach most recent filing as a screenshot;

OR

If not required to register with the Florida Division of Corporations, attach documentation showing the business was operating prior to March 1, 2019.  Examples may include certification from the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation, certification from the Department of Health, and business tax receipt from your applicable St. Lucie jurisdiction.

  • 5. Business financials for your business type (Required)

Individual (Sole Proprietors and individual/single-owner LLCs)

Corporations (C-Corps, S-Corps, corporate Limited Liability Corporations (LLCs))

Partnerships

 

2019 Schedule C (Form 1040) 

OR  

If no 2019 Schedule C is available, provide 2018 Schedule C (Form 1040) and a copy of the extension request and 2019 Year End Balance Sheet and Profit & Loss Statement. 

 

2019 Corporation Income Tax Return (Form 1120 or Form 1120S) 

OR

If no 2019 Corporate Tax Return is available, provide 2018 Corporate Tax Return (Form 1120 or 1120S) and a copy of the extension request and 2019 Year End Balance Sheet and Profit & Loss Statement.

 

2019 Return of Partnership Income (Form 1065) 

OR

If no 2019 Return of Partnership Income is available, provide 2018 Return of Partnership Income (Form 1120 or 1120S) and a copy of the extension request and 2019 Year End Balance Sheet and Profit & Loss Statement.

 

  • 6. Detailed employee roster including the following for each employee: Name, Start Date, Position, Current Full-Time/Part-Time status and Telephone #. (Required)
  • 7. Copy of invoices and cancelled check (or proof of payment by cash receipt or bank statement debits), or contractor proposals supporting the each eligible reimbursable COVID-19 related business expense incurred or planned between March 1, 2020 and May 31, 2020. (Note: Within the application you will be required to list and document these expenditures.) (Required)
  • 8. Copy of a business lease (if applicable) AND a utility bill showing the physical location of the business. (Required)
  • 9. Updated and Current Municipal Business Tax Receipt from St. Lucie County and if in the City or Port St. Lucie or City of Fort Pierce, a City Business Tax for that city. (Required)
  • ***D.10. For Short-Term Lodging establishments and vacation rental management companies that collect and remit Tourist Development Tax, tourist development tax receipt or cancelled check for last monthly or quarterly payment made. *** Not required of all applicants

 

Important NOTE for business applicants regarding the information on your W-9 form.

Review your W-9 form closely.  For your application to be approved, the form must be completed correctly and each field you enter on your application must match the information on your W-9 exactly.

  1. Form 1040, Schedule C (or if short-term lodging, a Schedule E)
  2. Then, you are an individual, a sole proprietor or a single member LLC and you should check that box in section 3 of the W-9 and B.13. on the application.
  3. Put your personal given name (as shown on the Schedule C or E) in Box 1 of the W-9 and on B.1. on the application.
  4. Include your “Doing Business As” name (if you have one) in Box 2 of the W-9 and on B.2. of the application.
  5. The address on lines 5 and 6 of the W-9 must match the “Mailing Address for the Grant Check” on line B.6. of the application.
  6. Your “Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN)” on Part I of the W-9 will be your personal social security number (SSN), and this same SSN should be entered on line B.5. of your application.
  7. Form 1065
  8. Then, you are a partnership or a “Limited Liability Company – P.”
    • If you are an LLC, you should check that box on the second line in section 3 of the W-9 and type the letter “P” in the blank to the right.  Also, you should check the “Partnership” box on B.13. of the application.
    • Otherwise, you should check the “Partnership” box on the first line of section 3 of the W-9 and on line b.13. of the application.
  9. Put the legal name of your partnership (as it appears on Form 1065) in Box 1 of the W-9 and on B.1. on the application.
  10. Include your “Doing Business As” name (if different from the partnership name) in Box 2 of the W-9 and on B.2. of the application.
  11. The address on lines 5 and 6 of the W-9 must match the “Mailing Address for the Grant Check” on line B.6. of the application.
  12. Your “Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN)” on Part I of the W-9 will be your Employer Identification Number (EIN) as it appears on Form 1065, and this same EIN should be entered on line B.5. of your application. Do not use your Social Security Number.
  13. Form 1120
  14. Then, you are a C Corporation or a “Limited Liability Company – C.”
    • If you are an LLC, you should check that box on the second line in section 3 of the W-9 and type the letter “C” in the blank to the right.  Also, you should check the “Corporation” box on B.13. of the application.
    • Otherwise, you should check the “C Corporation” box on the first line of section 3 of the W-9 and the “Corporation” box on line b.13. of the application.
  15. Put the legal name of your corporation (as it appears on Form 1120) in Box 1 of the W-9 and on B.1. on the application.
  16. Include your “Doing Business As” name (if different from the corporation name) in Box 2 of the W-9 and on B.2. of the application.
  17. The address on lines 5 and 6 of the W-9 must match the “Mailing Address for the Grant Check” on line B.6. of the application.
  18. Your “Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN)” on Part I of the W-9 will be your Employer Identification Number (EIN) as it appears on Form 1120, and this same EIN should be entered on line B.5. of your application. Do not use your Social Security Number.
  19. Form 1120S
  20. Then, you are an S Corporation or a “Limited Liability Company – S.”
    • If you are an LLC, you should check that box on the second line in section 3 of the W-9 and type the letter “S” in the blank to the right.  Also, you should check the “Corporation” box on B.13. of the application.
    • Otherwise, you should check the “S Corporation” box on the first line of section 3 of the W-9 and the “Corporation” box on line b.13. of the application.
  21. Put the legal name of your corporation (as it appears on Form 1120S) in Box 1 of the W-9 and on B.1. on the application.
  22. Include your “Doing Business As” name (if different from the corporation name) in Box 2 of the W-9 and on B.2. of the application.
  23. The address on lines 5 and 6 of the W-9 must match the “Mailing Address for the Grant Check” on line B.6. of the application.
  24. Your “Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN)” on Part I of the W-9 will be your Employer Identification Number (EIN) as it appears on Form 1120S, and this same EIN should be entered on line B.5. of your application. Do not use your Social Security Number.

I own more than one business in St. Lucie County. Can I apply for more than one grant?

Yes, you can qualify for a grant for each eligible legal business entity. Each entity must occupy a separate physical storefront and have a unique business name.  You must provide separate financial statements and staffing documentation for each location.  If you are a private franchisee operating multiple food or retail establishments, you may qualify.  Corporate-owned locations of franchises are not eligible. 

I have a Parent Holding Company that owns several businesses.  How should I complete the application process?

You will file a separate application for each of the “Child” companies.  Use the tax form filed by the Parent to report income to the IRS (Schedule C, Schedule E, 1065, 1120 or 1120S) as a Business Financials documentation in Section D of the application for each of the child companies.  You will also need to file a Profit & Loss Statement (P&L) for each child.  Each child business must occupy a separate physical storefront and have a unique business name.

I own one or more commercial properties I rent to others for them to conduct business on the premises.  Do I qualify for a grant?

Yes, if your business otherwise meets all of the grant eligibility requirements.

How does the application and approval process work?

The software and staff will communicate directly with the applicant regarding any problems with the application or to confirm the application is eligible, denied or if it needs revisions to be approved. Once an application is approved and processed for payment, the business owner will receive a direct deposit from St. Lucie County for the amount approved.

How do I apply?

St. Lucie Recovers Small Business Assistance Grant applicants must submit an online form with financial documentation and payroll records www.recoverstlucie.org.

How quickly will I receive my grant once approved?

Depending on the number of applicants and the completeness of your application, it may take several weeks from the start of application review until eligible business applicants will receive the approved funding.  We will be processing the grants as fast as possible.  The best thing you can do to speed up the process is to submit a complete, well thought out and well documented grant application.

Will my business be required to report how I spent funds that are awarded?

St. Lucie County reserves the right to request such information.  Please note, your business is required to provide access to such records as may be necessary to prevent fraud or ensure compliance with federal requirements.

Can I apply for this loan through a local lending institution?

Local banks are not involved in this grant program.  Please apply directly through the St. Lucie Recovers Small Business Assistance Grant portal at www.recoverstlucie.org.

Tips For Applicants

If you are applying for the St. Lucie Recovers Small Business Assistance Grant, here are some tips to keep in mind:

  1. Do not rush to submit – the fastest way to get approved is to make sure your application and all documents are accurate and complete.
  2. Double-check that your current year documents are SIGNED, scanned & ready to upload.
  3. Make sure you have reviewed each screen before you select, “Complete and Continue.”
  4. You will be contacted if your application needs additional information or corrections.
  5. Once you submit your application it is locked. So, please make sure you have included all of your documentation before you submit. 
  6. Don’t worry. A member of our staff will be in touch to discuss any issues they identify with your application. Thank you for your patience.

Where did this funding come from?

St. Lucie County received $13.8 million from the State of Florida’s Division of Emergency Management (FDEM) as part of the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act. These funds are being used to assist residents as well as businesses, with almost $4 million allocated specifically for small business assistance grants. The application process is being administered by St. Lucie County in partnership with the Economic Development Council of St. Lucie County.

How much funding is available for small businesses?

St. Lucie County has set aside almost $4 million for eligible small businesses to each receive a one-time grant of up to $10,000. This grant is not a loan and does not need to be reimbursed.

Questions and Help with the St. Lucie Recovers Small Business Assistance Grant Program 

What if I have questions about the application or whether my business qualifies?

St. Lucie County is here to help. For more detailed small business assistance grant information, including eligibility requirements and the online application, go to www.recoverstlucie.org or call 772.336.6285.

 

 

 

St. Lucie Recovers Small Business Assistance Grant Program Application