Sarasota County CARES Assistance program put on pause as staff members work to disperse funds for applications already in pipeline

County has put $27.1 million into local economy as a result of federal aid provided through the state

This is a still from an instructional video created by Sarasota County staff that was designed to help people apply for the grants. Image courtesy Sarasota County

Since its launch in August, the Sarasota County CARES Assistance program has disbursed $27.1 million into the local economy, supporting small businesses, individual households, arts and cultural programs, and nonprofit organizations, county staff announced on Nov. 19.

As of Nov. 16, more than $2.3 million in individual assistance has been paid to 757 households, with more than $23.1 million going to 550 small businesses, a news release says. “The county’s assistance program is on track to distribute a total of $49 million to small businesses and $7.5 million to individuals,” the release adds.

“With the direction of the Board of County Commissioners, we’ve worked closely with the Sarasota County Clerk of the Circuit Court and Comptroller to push funding out quickly,” said County Administrator Jonathan Lewis in the release. “The effort to help those most in need deal with the effects of COVID-19 and keep our community running has been amazing. Our employees, CARES ambassadors, and chambers of commerce have been working to help those who need it.”

Based on the applications already submitted, the county will succeed in distributing all of the CARES funds as approved by the County Commission, the release points out. As a result, the Small Business and Individual Assistance programs have been put on pause as of Nov. 19, the release notes. During the ensuing period, existing applicants will be able to view their applications, the release says, but the program will not accept new applications.

On Nov. 18, the County Commission agreed to Lewis’ request to modify the CARES Assistance program, shifting funds into the categories with the most need.   

The board approved the following changes:

  • Business Assistance program funding modified to disperse $49 million.
  • Individual Assistance program modified to award $7.5 million.
  • Human Services/Nonprofits subcategory of the Water, Food, and Shelter program modified to give out $4 million.
  • Health and Medical (Nonprofits) program modified to grant $6 million.

For more information on the Sarasota County CARES Assistance program, call the County CARES Contact Center between 8 a.m. and 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday at 941-861-CARE (2273) or visit