Orange County to help small businesses still suffering from COVID-19 lockdown

ORANGE COUNTY, Florida. – The Orange County Small Business BOOST Program has allocated approximately $26 million in federal funding through the American Rescue Plan Act to help businesses still recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown.

Grants will be made available to local small businesses, home-based businesses and gig workers.

To qualify, businesses must experience a 25% decline in revenue due to pandemic lockdowns.

Small businesses can be granted up to $10,000, up to $3,000 for home-based businesses, and up to $1,400 for gig workers.

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The grant can be used to cover business expenses such as wages, mortgages, rent, utilities, payroll and other expenses.

They are non-refundable and are issued on a first-come, first-served basis, but only to those who qualify.

Orange County resident Thomas Musolino plans to apply.

“It would definitely help in general (somewhat) lighten the burden of everyday affairs,” Musolino said.

He has been sharing his glassblowing skills with the community since 2017. He worked at Factur, a membership-based workshop in Winter Park.

It then expanded in 2022 and rented a building across the street.

As for Factur, the place where he started his career closed two weeks ago, citing the lingering effects of the lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It’s just sad to see so many of these small businesses go bust because they can’t make ends meet,” Musolino said.

It is also the fear lurking in the back of his head.

“Due to COVID, just to stay afloat before I moved here, I had to take out a business loan,” Musolino said.

Costs are rising faster than the number of customers visiting his store.

“When things go bad economically, the art community takes a very hard hit because if you can’t afford food, you’re not (going to) go and set up a glassblowing workshop,” Musolino said.

However, he’s going to put his name in the county grant hat if that means keeping his doors open.

“Don’t give up on us, we’re trying,” Musolino said.

The upcoming Small Business BOOST information session will take place on Friday, July 21 at the National Center for Entrepreneurship.

Address: 3201 E. Colonial Dr., Orlando, FL 32803. Click here to register.

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