St. Lucie Recovers Small Business Assistance Grant Program – Phase 3

Frequently Asked Questions

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

St. Lucie Recovers Small Business Assistance Program – Phase 3 will focus on businesses that experienced a business disruption whether they were forced to close by government order, curtailed operations or closed voluntarily to promote social distance measures or that were affected by decreased customer demand as a result of COVID-19 public health emergency.

What businesses qualify for this funding?

Small businesses in St. Lucie County directly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Please keep reading for specific eligibility criteria.

Number of Employees (Full Time Equivalents Maximum Grant Award
0-3 employees, including sole proprietors Up to $5,000
More than 3 and up to 10 employees Up to $7,500
More than 10 and up to 25 employees Up to $10,000
More than 25 and up to 50 employees Up to $20,000

What can these funds be used for?

Grants may be used to cover qualified COVID-19 related expenses from March 1, 2020 through the date of application.

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.

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

Complete applications with all required documentation will be reviewed on a first-come, first-qualified 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 be contacted, as eligibility must be validated. Validation of applications will not occur until all documentation is received.

All funds are expected to be disbursed by December 31, 2020. 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 on October 19, 2020. The application period will close on November 20, 2020 (midnight) 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 suffered business disruption from the COVID-19 public health emergency. Home-Based are not eligible for this grant.
  • Business suffered economic damages from business interruption caused by COVID-19 exceeding $1,000 from March 1, 2020 thru the date of application submission, excluding those covered by insurance or reimbursement from any federal program.
  • Business employed 50 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, 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 the application submission date, and provide invoices, paid receipts, past due bills or contractor proposals 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?

St. Lucie Recovers Small Business Assistance Program – Phase 3 will focus on businesses that maintain a commercial location and experienced a business disruption whether they were forced to close by government order, curtailed operations or closed voluntarily to promote social distance measures or that were affected by decreased customer demand as a result of COVID-19 public health emergency.  Business Disruption is defined as:

  • Reduction of 20% or greater in annual revenues or customers.
  • Supply chain disruption resulting in increased operational costs greater than the maximum grant award for which the business qualifies.
  • Workforce availability or reduction leading to decreased production capacity by greater than 20%, for which the impacts are greater than maximum grant award for which the business qualifies
  • Modification of business operations, e.g., changes in production, delivery processes or increased digital capabilities (conversion to online platform for provision of services or products or shifting organization to operate remotely) resulting in disruption expenses greater than the maximum grant award for which the business qualifies.

Note – Business Disruption:  Business must clearly demonstrate business disruption. For example, if a business is claiming $10,000 in financial impacts, as a result of the COVID-19 public health emergency, due to a reduction in annual revenues or customers you must provide a detailed overview and must be able to produce all necessary and requisite documents to demonstrate the impacts, upon request, of the business disruption.  These requisite documents will need to be retained for seven years.

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, not as part of this program.  The County is developing a narrowly tailored program focused on home-based business and expect to launch the program soon. Please check back.

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. Pictures of a document open on a computer screen will not be accepted, you must download the document and upload in the application system at the appropriate location.

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.

  • D1. Scanned copy of the front of the business owner or principal’s driver’s license or state identification card. (Required)
  • D2. 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)
  • D3. St. Lucie County Direct Deposit Authorization Form (required to enable payment). (add link) (Required)
  • D4. (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.

 

  • D5. 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) 2019 Corporation Income Tax Return (Form 1120 or Form 1120S) 2019 Return of Partnership Income (Form 1065)

 

  • D6. Detailed employee roster including the following for each employee: Name, Start Date, Position, Current Full-Time/Part-Time status and Telephone #. (Required). Contract Labor or Independent Contractors do not count toward calculation of full-time equivalents (FTEs).
  • D7.A.Business-related expenses submitted for reimbursement are required to be due to COVID-19 impact. Provide copies of bills, invoices, statements (not bank statements), proposals or receipts for eligible reimbursable COVID-19 related business expenses between March 1st and submission date of application.  Past-due, unpaid bills may be included and proposals from contractors for COVID-19 related safety measures may be applicable. These must exclude expenses covered by insurance or reimbursement from any federal program. Within the application you will be required to list and document these expenditures. (Required)
  • D7.B. Lease or mortgage statement.  You must provide a copy of an executed business lease or lease statement if you are seeking reimbursement of rent or lease payments. If you are submitting for reimbursement of mortgage expenses, you will need to provide a copy of the mortgage statement for the months for which you are seeking reimbursement).
  • D8. Copy of County or municipal utility bill showing the physical service location of the business. (Required)
  • D9.A. 2020 – 2021 St. Lucie County Local Business Tax Receipt (Required).
  • D8.B. 2020 – 2021 City Local Business Tax Receipt if your business is located if in the City of Fort Pierce,City of Port St. Lucie or the Town of St. Lucie Village. (Required, if applicable).
  • ***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 may qualify for a grant for each eligible legal business entity. Each entity must file taxes separately from the other business(es), occupy a separate physical storefront, and have a unique business name.  You must provide separate tax return 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.

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.  Note – common errors that delay processing are:  incorrect W-9 forms, no voided check or incomplete Direct Deposit Form, inactive or missing Sun Biz registration, partial tax return submitted, incomplete employees roster with all requested details, full and current executed lease for rent reimbursement, missing required CURRENT local business tax receipts (St. Lucie County AND/OR municipality) and providing expenses from March 1st through date of application submission (start with highest first up to your maximum grant award).
  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.

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