UWF in the Community

Donations from community partners provide over $1.2 million to small businesses through Small Business COVID-19 Recovery Grant Programs

The Florida Small Business Development Center at UWF processed 275 grants totaling over $1,278,500 for Northwest Florida small businesses needing financial assistance due to COVID-19. Gulf Power, BBVA Bank, the cities of Fort Walton Beach, Destin, Milton, Pensacola, Gulf Breeze and the commissioners of Escambia, Santa Rosa and Okaloosa counties funded these grant programs.

Indigeaux Denim Bar & Boutique in Downtown Pensacola.

Gulf Power donated $560,000 to the program. Marlene Santos, president of Gulf Power, said small businesses are the backbone of local communities and that inspired Gulf Power to provide support.

“In the early days of the pandemic, we realized that our communities would experience a significant impact, and we committed to identifying ways to provide support and relief,” Santos said. “We are very grateful that by partnering with the University of West Florida’s Small Business Development Center we were able to quickly distribute funds to the small businesses that needed it most.”

The grant programs provided up to $5,000 to for-profit businesses to help offset losses that small businesses may currently be experiencing as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Since small businesses were provided assistance through grant programs versus a loan, they will not be required to pay back any money.

Katie Bosso, owner of Indigeaux Denim Bar and Boutique, received a grant for her small business in downtown Pensacola. She found out about the grant opportunity through social media.

“We are very grateful that we were able to apply and that we were a recipient of the grant,” Bosso said. “Our biggest fixed expense is our rent and it has helped pay for that.”

Applications are still being accepted for the Northwest Florida Small Business COVID-19 Recovery Grant, Okaloosa County Small Business COVID-19 Recovery Grant, Fort Walton Beach Small Business COVID-19 Recovery Grant, and the Destin Small Business COVID-19 Recovery Grant.

The Florida SBDC at UWF donated their expertise and time in order to facilitate these grant programs for the donors. Kelly Massey, Regional Director, said the SBDC has seen first-hand the struggles area small businesses are facing due to COVID-19.

“Cash flow is a significant issue for many area businesses due to the pandemic,” Massey said. “I was thrilled when Gulf Power and many of our surrounding counties and cities stepped up to provide funding to assist many area businesses. These grants along with federal assistance saved many businesses. We are glad to be a part of it.”

For more information about the SBDC, visit www.sbdc.uwf.edu.