Osceola County just a few days away from CARES Act funding deadline for applicants

Help still available for residents, small businesses

OSCEOLA COUNTY, Fla. – With just a few days before the deadline to apply for the CARES funding program in Osceola County, a county spokesperson said they still have funds to distribute.

The owners of Buchito’s restaurant and coffee shop in downtown Kissimmee is one of several mom and pop shops in need of that financial boost.

“We had to max out all our credit cards from the businesses and we had to put money from our own pockets,” Alejandro Benitez, manager of Buchito’s, said.

The restaurant, which has been operating for more than six years, recently applied for the program.

“The application wasn’t that hard to do. It was kind of simple, they just ask bank statements, (the) profit that we lost, revenue,” Benitez said.

The CARES Act is a federal coronavirus relief package in which Osceola county received $65.5 million from the state.

Currently, the county is distributing $16.3 million of that total, where 70% will be for housing assistance, 20% for small businesses and 10% for food security like food banks.

Benitez said in order for his business to stay afloat with the $1,600 a month rent and utility expenses, they've had to make adjustments to keep the espresso machine running.

“We are a small family business, just me, my dad and my mom, so for us, we can cut corners, like one month, OK, I’m gonna get a pay cut, she’s gonna get a pay cut,” he said.

The grant provides emergency funding of up to $2,500 for home-based businesses, $5,000 for all businesses with 2-25 employees, and $10,000 for businesses with 26 or more employees.

"Hopefully we can get that so we can level up the next couple of months," Benitez said.

To receive funding through the cares act program, applicants must provide evidence of eligible expenses such as rent, mortgage payments, utilities, and payroll incurred during the period of Feb. 1 and May 31. They must also provide proof of investments in materials and personal protective equipment for reopening or operating during social distancing mandates.

Applications are open until Friday at 5 p.m.

Businesses can apply at www.weveopenedsafely.com.

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