SEBRING — Highlands County Board of County Commissioners will soon be taking applications for the Highlands CARES grant programs it has established. These grant programs will be using the funds Highlands County government has received as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

Beginning Monday, Aug. 3, the application process will be open to the public. To apply, residents will need to go to HighlandsCares.com, where the links to the application website will be live at 9 a.m.

Applications for all three grant programs will be accepted between 9 a.m. and noon on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

Under the Individual Grant program, citizens may apply for $1,500. To be eligible, applicants must be Highlands County residents who are 18 or older and have experienced a verifiable loss of income due to COVID-19 as of March 17, 2020. Payment will be made directly to the individual applicant.

Highlands County residents must gather the following information for the application process: a valid Florida ID or Florida driver’s license listing their residence as a Highlands County address; proof of loss of income related to COVID-19 – furlough notice, lay-off letter from employer, unemployment statement, pay stubs, etc.; copy of W-2 or 1099.

The Small Business Relief Grant program will provide a tiered amount based on the number of employees to eligible businesses or non-profit organizations who have had a negative impact due to COVID-19 as of March 17, 2020. Funds will go directly to the organization. Organizations with 0-5 employees are eligible for $2,000; 6-15 employees for $5,000; 16-25 employees for $7,000; and 26-75 employees for $10,000.

Applicants may apply for up to two businesses or non-profit organizations. Businesses and non-profit organizations will need to self-certify information in the application process. Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) recipients are eligible. Funds may be used to cover operational costs. The applicant must be a business or non-profit organization with its principal location in Highlands County that is legally operating within Highlands County and the State of Florida prior to March 17, 2020.

Businesses (for-profit and non-profit) wanting to apply for business assistance will need the following documentation: a copy or picture of each owner’s or executive leadership’s valid Florida ID or Florida driver’s license; “active” status business registration from the Florida Division of Corporations or copy of municipal business license or copy of Schedule C or copy of 1099; a completed and signed IRS W-9 form; for businesses with two or more employees, a W-3 summary or IRS 941 showing the number of employees prior to March 17, 2020; and information to estimate company’s average monthly expenses before March 17, 2020.

The Community Proposals program will provide funds to eligible non-profit organizations who are proposing or have an existing program that helps the Highlands County community respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. Non-profit organizations may apply for the Small Business Relief Grant program and the Community Proposals program. Proposals may be submitted for future programs or retroactive reimbursement of existing programs related to COVID-19 support as of March 17, 2020. Funds will go directly to the organization. Non-profit organizations will need to self-certify information in the application process. Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) recipients are eligible. The applicant must be a business or non-profit organization with its principal location in Highlands County that is legally operating within Highlands County and the State of Florida prior to March 17, 2020.

Non-profit businesses wanting funds through the Community Proposals program will need the following documentation: a copy or picture of each owner’s valid Florida ID or Florida driver’s license; “active” status business registration from the Florida Division of Corporations or copy of municipal business license or copy of Schedule C or copy of 1099; a completed and signed IRS W-9 form; for businesses with two or more employees, a W-3 summary or IRS 941 showing the number of employees prior to March 17, 2020; and information to estimate company’s average monthly expenses before March 17, 2020.

Community Proposals applications will close at 5 p.m. Friday, Aug. 21. Staff will review non-profit community proposals after this date and bring them before the Board of County Commission at the regularly scheduled Sept. 1 board meeting.