Miami News

Small Business Assistance Programs came and went in three days

Small Business Owner

The City of Miami presented three new programs for small business assistance that was not very accessible to many

The City of Miami recently announced three new programs for small business assistance for businesses who have been impacted by COVID-19. These programs included the Business Continuity Micro-Enterprise Program, the Small Business Emergency Loan Program, and the Emergency Rental and Utility Assistance Program. Within three days, the programs reached capacity, leaving many businesses unable to apply. 

The Business Continuity Micro-Enterprise Program was designed to grant for-profit micro-enterprise businesses up to $10,000 if they were forced to shut down operations and have lost revenue due to being deemed nonessential. The grant must have been put toward expenses such as rent, salaries, utility payments, licenses, insurance, and other eligible spending.

To qualify for the Micro-Enterprise Program, the business must have had five or fewer employees, including the owner, who must have been a low to moderate-income person with 80 percent Area Median Income (AMI). The business must have been operational prior to Feb. 15 and must have been located in the City of Miami, which the applicant can verify on the Miami Dade Property Appraiser website. 

During the pre-qualification process, businesses must have been able to submit proper documentation, including occupational licenses, income tax returns, annuity statements, bank statements, and others. After approval of pre-qualification, the required documents for closing included a W-9 form provided by a landlord, lease agreement, and others. 

The Small Business Emergency Loan Program required much of the same documentation and also applies to for-profit businesses in the City of Miami that were deemed nonessential and have lost revenue. This funding ranged from $5,000 to $20,000 to assist in rent, salaries, and utilities.

To qualify for the Small Business Assistance SBELP, businesses must have had 20 employees or less and the owner must remain a low to moderate-income individual for at least one year in order for the loan to be forgiven. If this is not the case, businesses will have to pay back the loan over a five-year period with one percent interest. There will be no payment for the first year. 

Businesses applying to SBELP demonstrated the ability to repay the loan if necessary, and if they are a corporation, they demonstrated an active status in the Florida Department of State Division of Corporations.

The third program being implemented by the City of Miami is the Emergency Rental and Utility Assistance Program, which will provide one month rent and utility payments of up to $1,500 to a low-income or less residents who have lost their jobs due to the pandemic. 

The funding will not be directly issued to the applicants, but to their landlords or utility companies, both of whom must be willing to participate in this program. Applicants were citizens of the U.S., and demonstrated need due to COVID-19, in addition to other eligibility requirements. 

The application process required many of the same documents as the other assistance programs, adding bank statements, pay stubs, and utility bills. 

Hopefully it will not take too long to get more and longer-lasting aid from the City of Miami or Miami-Dade County for local residents.

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