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East County Wednesday, Jul. 1, 2020 3 months ago

Safety First grants targeted for Manatee County businesses

Manatee County will award funds to help businesses with safety features.
by: Pam Eubanks Senior Editor

Geri Lopez, Manatee County’s Redevelopment and Economic Opportunity Department director, normally works with businesses to create jobs in Manatee County and affordable housing.

Her focus has shifted to helping businesses survive the coronavirus pandemic.

Lopez is working with the Safety First Small Business Grant program, approved by Manatee County commissioners June 23, to assist businesses hardest hit by Gov. Ron DeSantis’ shelter-in-place order in March.

The idea is to help businesses with 15 or fewer employees to reopen safely by funding things like personal protection equipment for employees or equipment, such as dividers, to make work spaces safe. Business can receive up to $5,000 in assistance to cover coronavirus-related expenses, such as sanitation and safety supplies, outdoor seating, software and signage.

Manatee County will receive $17.5 million in coronavirus relief bill funding through the state of Florida.

Of that, about 30% will be designated for economic recovery according to preliminary plans delivered by Deputy County Administrator Karen Stewart.

Lopez said the department is setting up the grant application process. Applications likely will be taken for a two-week period starting in mid-July, with the first grants distributed in August.

Manatee County will host virtual meetings about the proposed spending of relief bill funding July 9 and 10. Details of those meetings have not yet been released.

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