Assistance for Business Owners

Information for Businesses  

As our current situation continues to unfold, the City of Orlando will provide regular updates to our business community regarding information and resources available at the federal, state and local government levels as well as resources offered by our economic development partners.  

Orange County CARES Grants for Small Businesses and Residents

Orange County Government received $243.1 million as part of the federal CARES Act toward COVID-19 relief. With these funds, Orange County has established grants to help residents and businesses.  

  • Qualifying small businesses with less than 100 employees are eligible for a one-time, $10,000 grant to cover business expenses such as employee wages, vendor bills and rent to help offset significant temporary loss of revenue.

  • Home-based businesses with three or less employees may be eligible for micro-grants ranging from $1,000 to $3,000.

  • Residents affected by COVID-19 may receive a one-time payment of $1,000 per household to bridge financial gaps for overdue rent, mortgage, medical or an eligible utility expense. 

For more information including eligibility criteria and the required documents to apply, please visit ocfl.net/OrangeCARES

OUC Small Business Assistance Funds Available

OUC launched its new Small Business Assistance Fund, which provides up to $2,500 in utility assistance for small businesses facing financial hardship due to COVID-19. Aid will be in the form of a credit adjustment on your next OUC bill. OUC has committed $1.6 million to this fund and funds are available on a first-come, first-serve basis until they are depleted. For more information and to apply, please click here.

Businesses who have challenges paying their utility bill in full should call OUC’s Customer Service at 407.423.9018 to determine if a payment plan may be available to prevent a disruption or disconnection in service.  

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Available to Small Businesses  

Orange County Government’s PPE for Small Biz initiative provides personal protective equipment (PPE) including face masks and hand sanitizer to eligible small businesses. Small business owners must register by completing an Interest Form at ocfl.net/PPE as soon as possible, as the form will be inaccessible once supplies run out. 

City of Orlando Approves Changes to Help Businesses Open and Operate Safely   

In an effort to help expedite a path to economic recovery and to further assist local businesses to reopen responsibly, the City of Orlando approved a package of actions that provide opportunities for businesses to temporarily expand their operational space and market their businesses outside, without the need to obtain city permits or pay any fees.   

These opportunities include:  

  • Allowing businesses to expand retail sales and restaurant seating into outdoor areas such as private parking lots and public rights-of-way    

  • Authorizing businesses to use small, farmer’s market-style tents to accommodate for sales and seating outdoors   

  • Granting businesses the ability to use extra banners and signage for marketing   

  • Covering the costs of downtown parking to encourage residents to patronize businesses within our urban core  

For more information on expanding sales into the right-of-way, using tents and extra banners and signage, please click here, scroll to the bottom of the page and open the PDF for the Temporary Use Permit. For a video on how you may be able to use these tools at your business, please click here.

Business interested in obtaining parking validations to cover parking for their patrons should click here.  

All programs will be available to businesses until February 1, 2021. 

Governor DeSantis’ Safe.Smart. Step-by-Step Plan for Florida’s Recovery 

On Friday, June 26, the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR) issued Executive Order 2020-09 which prohibits bars, pubs and night clubs (deriving 50% or less of their income from food sales) from serving alcohol for consumption on premises. These establishments are allowed to engage in sales of sealed containers for off premises consumption. Restaurants may continue to operate at 50% indoor capacity and are still allowed to sell alcoholic beverages for consumption onsite so long as patrons are being served while seated at tables.

On Wednesday, June 3, Governor DeSantis issued Executive Order 20-139. Effective Friday, June 5, the state will move to Phase 2 of its re-opening plan which allows:  

  • Retail establishments can operate at full capacity with appropriate social distancing and sanitization practices.  

  • Restaurants maintain operations at 50% capacity but may begin to allow bar-top seating with appropriate social distancing. 

  • Gyms and fitness centers can operate at full capacity using appropriate social distancing and safety measures, including sanitizing equipment. 

  • The number of individuals allowed at social gatherings increases from 10 to 50. 

  • Movie theaters, bowling alleys and other entertainment-based businesses can operate at 50% capacity with appropriate social distancing and sanitization practices. 

  • Personal service businesses, including tattoo parlors, acupuncture, tanning salons and massage establishments may operate while adhering to guidance from the Florida Department of Health. 

On Friday, May 15, Governor DeSantis issued Executive Order 20-123 moving to a full Phase 1 of the state's re-opening plan, effective Monday, May 18.

On Saturday, May 9, Governor DeSantis issued Executive Order 20-120 allowing barbershops, hair salons and nail salons to re-open as part of Phase 1.   

On Wednesday, April 29, Governor DeSantis issued Executive Order 20-112, effective Monday, May 4 outlining the initial Phase 1 plan for re-opening Florida’s economy.  

To read the Governor’s Taskforce Report on the plan to re-open Florida, please click here.  

To report a business in violation of the state’s re-opening plan and Executive Orders, please contact the state's Department of Business and Professional Regulation.  

The City of Orlando will continue to provide updates related to the Governor’s plans for re-opening additional Phase 2 businesses.   

Orange County Task Force  

Mayor Demings’ Orange County Economic Recovery Task Force continues to meet and will provide additional recommendations for reopening Orange County businesses, including a phased approach to easing restrictions, while ensuring the safety of employees and the public. For more information about the Task Force, its meeting schedule and how to view meetings, click here.

BRACE Business Ambassadors 

The Orlando Economic Partnership's Business Recovery Assistance and Collaborative Engagement (BRACE) program is a free service with Partnership “ambassadors” available to connect small business owners with resources.  

MEBA Rent Abatement

The City of Orlando’s Community Redevelopment Agency continues to seek ways to support businesses as they begin to reopen or enhance operations responsibly as part of the state’s phased plan for reopening Florida’s economy.

City Council recently approved a policy update to the Minority/Women Entrepreneur Business Assistance Program (MEBA). Recognizing that many minority-owned businesses have suffered economically because of COVID-19, this policy update provides a rent subsidy of $6,000 or less with an abbreviated application process. The program is available through February 1, 2021. To apply, please click here.  

Financial Resources 

Helping our economy recover from the financial impacts of this virus will take the partnership of government at all levels, so we continue gather the most up-to-date information on resources available. At the current time, some of these resources include: 

  • The federal government’s Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act includes resources for small businesses and non-profits through the Small Business Administration (SBA) including:
    • Paycheck Protection Program to help cover payroll and additional costs for 8 weeks with a loan of up to $10 million, which can be forgiven if employers maintain employee wages for the entire 8-week period.  
    • SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL) offer up to $2 million to help small businesses overcome loss of revenue and emergency grants to provide immediate relief for operating costs. These loans may be used to pay fixed debts, payroll, accounts payable and other bills that can’t be paid because of the disaster’s impact.   
  • The state’s Department of Economic Opportunity asks business owners to take a survey to assess the impact of COVID-19 on business operations. The state has activated the Florida Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan Program to provide short-term, interest-free loans related to economic injury from COVID-19, however as of April 13, 2020, is no longer accepting new applications. 

Other Resources  

The Orlando Economic Partnership has also created an online resource center for employers and businesses to serve as a one-stop-shop for information and resources available throughout our region.   

Our Business Development Division, led by Division Manager Sherry Gutch, has a team of people to answer questions and connect our business leaders to resources and can be reached by emailing economicdevelopment@orlando.gov.  

Orlando Health has launched a resource website to assist businesses as they prepare to resume operations. 

The City of Orlando has been sending regular email updates for businesses. To join the mailing list and to view the most recent and previous issues, please click here