Polk Offers Assistance to Families, Businesses Hurt by COVID-19

Small business owners and residents in Polk County can apply for a portion of $70 million in assistance the county has received from the federal government as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act grant, also known as the CARES Act.

Polk County received $126 million, part of which will be spent to assist with health care and governmental costs associated with the pandemic. 

Residents and business owners can find more information, eligibility requirements, documents needed and links to applications at https://polk-county.net/polk-cares-2020.

“We’ve heard so much from local businesses — their concerns, their fears of trying to remain open and keep staff engaged, and this is an opportunity outside of some of the other programs from the federal and state level to really engage on a local level,” said Lakeland City Manager Tony Delgado. “The money was filtered through the county to meet some of those challenges. I would hope some local businesses take advantage of it. It will take time and effort, but they can use it as a conduit to meet some of their goals and needs.”

The county plans to divvy the money up to provide as much assistance as possible to those affected by the coronavirus:

  • $40 million to help small businesses (up to 25 employees) with up to $5,000 in costs to remain open or reopen. 
  • $30 million for health and human service needs to help people who were laid off or furloughed pay for rent, mortgage and utilities, up to $2,000 per household.
  • $30 million for community health care.
  • $26 million for governmental costs and services.

“Small businesses have suffered throughout the pandemic, so anything we can provide them to keep their doors open or reopen will help our economy return to the robust state we have become accustomed to,” said Jake Polumbo, chairman of the Central Florida Development Council, which is helping the county with the grant. 

Business owners may apply for business and personal assistance grants. Required documents for personal and business grants, such as driver’s licenses and mortgage/utility bills, can be attached online. Those without computers can access the site from computers at their local libraries or at resource centers in Wabash or Medulla.

In addition to business grants, assistance is available to individuals and households who suffered economic losses from COVID-19 and have combined household income of under $75,000.

Residents can also submit paper copies of the form and documents by mail to the Polk County Board of County Commissioners, Attn: Budget Office, 330 W. Church St., Drawer CA02, Bartow, FL  33831. 

The county has also opened a call center to assist people trying to apply. For help, call 863-298-7500 between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays.

The county urges people not to delay. Applications will be taken until Dec. 30, 2020, or until the money runs out. Checks will be distributed within about two weeks if an application is approved. Applicants who are missing documentation may re-file.

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