Gig workers, small-business owners and home-based business owners who reside in Orange County have until this Friday to apply for financial grants through the county’s local BOOST program, which was first launched in July.
The “Business Opportunities in Orange County for Support and Transformation” program, or BOOST for short, offers financial assistance specifically to eligible gig workers and business owners who suffered at least a 25 percent loss in revenues due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s funded by monies allocated through the federal American Rescue Plan Act, a $1.9 economic stimulus bill passed by Congress and signed into law by President Joe Biden in 2021.
Through the local program, established this summer, gig workers who are not otherwise employed (either part-time or full-time) are eligible to receive grants of up to $1,400, while businesses with less than 500 employees are eligible for grants of up to $3,000, and home-based businesses are eligible for up to $10,000 grants. All applicants must reside in Orange County.
The county defines “gig workers” as “independent contractors in short-term work for multiple clients.” Uber and Lyft drivers, for example, or food delivery drivers who file 1099 tax forms.
Gig workers who received unemployment compensation between 2020 to 2023 are not eligible.
As part of the application process, proof of financial losses during COVID-19, such as tax returns, must be provided in order to prove eligibility for the program. All grants are provided on a first-come, first-serve basis to qualified applicants and you don’t have to pay the grants back
Since July, the county has already processed about 2,500 applications, according to a county news release, with “many more in the queue.” The Orlando Sentinel previously reported that the county expected to serve 5,000 applicants through the $26 million program.
According to the county, applicants will be notified either way if their application is approved or denied. If approved, applicants can expect to receive physical checks of their full grant within 45 days.
If you have questions about the application process, Orange County staff put together a “How to Apply” webinar that prospective applicants can watch here. You can also send an email to [email protected] or call 407-836-3111 if you have additional questions.
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