How much funding is available for the Exterior Improvement Grant Program?
St. Johns County allocated $500,000 to the Exterior Improvement Grant Program. Eligible small business owners and non-profits may receive a one-time grant of up to $49,500 to enhance the business’ or non-profit’s outdoor space for COVID-19 mitigation (for example, the installation or expansion of a restaurant patio), or improve the built environment of a neighborhood in a qualified census tract (for example, building façade improvements).
What are the eligibility requirements for the Exterior Improvement Grant Program?
To be eligible, a business must:
- Submit a completed electronic application by July 1, 2022.
- Be located in St. Johns County with a St. Johns County address.
- Be an active and operational business or nonprofit at the time of application submission.
- Have no more than 100 employees as of July 1, 2021.
- Adequately document the number of employees.
- Provide a valid St. Johns County Business Tax Receipt.
- Provide State of Florida business registration from the Florida Division of Corporations.
- Be in good legal standing with no court ordered financial obligations (e.g. no enforceable judgements, liens, bankruptcies, arbitration settlements requiring withholding of funds, felony convictions, violation of court orders requiring holding of funds for child support, court costs or criminal victim reimbursement programs).
- Be operating in accordance with all applicable local, state and federal laws with no open code violations within St. Johns County.
- Utilize the awarded ARPA grant dollars for funds to cover eligible enhancements to the business’ or nonprofit’s outdoor spaces which are completed on or before December 31, 2022. All enhancements must comply with applicable County, City and State laws, including zoning and permitting regulations.
- Have the ability to submit all required documentation for reimbursement under the grant by January 31, 2023.
- Retain relevant records documenting expenditure of the awarded funds for a period of six years and produce documents at the request of St. Johns County.
What documents are needed to apply for the Exterior Improvement Grant Program?
The following documents must be uploaded as part of the application:
- A current St. Johns County Business Tax Receipt. Additional information can be found on the St. Johns County Tax Collector’s website at sjctax.us/local-business-tax.
- Documentation showing the number of employees as of July 1, 2021, which may include a payroll journal, copy of 1099 forms, or other tax documentation demonstrating number of employees on July 1, 2021.
- A current Florida business registration from the Florida Division of Corporation, www.sunbiz.org.
- A current W-9, www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/fw9.pdf.
- Description of the enhancements or improvements to the property and explanation of how the project will enhance the business’ or nonprofit’s outdoor spaces for COVID-19 mitigation or improve the built environment of the neighborhood.
- Additional project details including who will complete the work, estimated project start date and estimated project completion date.
- Design drawings if applicable.
- Applicable County, City and/or State permits.
- Itemized cost estimate for the project.
- Signed vendor contracts for the project if applicable.
Is there a deadline to apply for the Exterior Improvement Grant Program?
Grants will be awarded on a first come first serve basis and grant applications will be accepted through 5 p.m. on Friday, July 1, 2022.
If my business received other COVID-19-related funding assistance (grants/loans), am I still eligible to apply?
Can I apply if I am a home-based business?
Grant funds may not be utilized to make improvements to a place of residence even if that residence is the primary location of operation for a home-based business.
Can I use the grant funds for improvements to my rental property?
Grant funds may not be utilized for improvements to residence including residence utilized as rental properties.
My employee count has changed throughout the year. As of what date should I provide my employee count?
For the grant application, business owners or nonprofits should provide their employee count as of July 1, 2021.
How will I be notified if my business or nonprofit receives a grant? Will I be notified if my business or nonprofit does not receive a grant?
Businesses and nonprofits that submit an application will receive an email notification of approval or denial after the grant application is reviewed.
How many reimbursements/payments are allowed for projects that receive an Exterior Improvement Grant?
A business or nonprofit may submit up to three reimbursement/payment requests which collectively do not exceed the lessor amount of either the total grant award or the total cost of the project. The first payment may be requested as an advance which is received prior to initiation of the project. If a business or nonprofit wishes to request an advance payment, the payment request may not exceed 25% of the total grant award amount. The remaining two payment requests must be made as reimbursement requests which are submitted to the County with all required documentation no later than January 31, 2023.
What documents are required for reimbursement of projects that are awarded an Exterior Improvement Grant?
Reimbursement request packets must include:
- A completed Exterior Improvement Grant program payment request form
- Proof of project expense payment (i.e. copies of deposited checks)
- Proof of project status for interim reimbursement requests (i.e. photos)
- Proof of project completion including a certificate of occupancy, if applicable, for the final reimbursement request
The County reserves the right to conduct a site visit of the project at any time during the project and/or within 60 days following the submission of the final grant reimbursement request.
Will I need to repay the awarded grant funding?
If a project is not completed by December 31, 2022, grant funds will have to be repaid to the County in-full by January 31, 2023.
If I receive an Exterior Improvement Grant, how long do I have to complete the project and spend the grant funds?
Business owners and nonprofits awarded an Exterior Improvement Grant must spend the grant funds by December 31, 2022. The final reimbursement packet must be submitted to the County no later than January 31, 2022.
Is there another way to apply for the grant program other than online?
Grant applications must be submitted online.
When working on the online application, is there the ability to save the application and return to it at a later time?
Yes, an application may be saved and completed at a later time.
Can I update/change the documentation submitted with my application?
Once an application is submitted, the application and uploaded documentation can be updated or changed however grants will be awarded on a first-come-first-served basis, and the date and time of the last application update will be used.
What happens if I submit an incomplete application?
Incomplete applications will not be considered for a grant award.
If I’ve recently completed exterior improvements to my business or nonprofit, can I submit those improvements for consideration of a grant?
Projects completed after March 3, 2021, can be submitted for consideration of a grant.
Are food trucks eligible to apply for the grant program?
Yes, food trucks are eligible to apply so long as the types of improvements included in the submitted application align with the program requirements and if the property the improvements are to be made on is either owned by the food truck or the food truck owner has received permission from the property owner. For example, a food truck can apply for the grant to create additional seating and outdoor space around the food truck.
Do I need to own the property that the business or nonprofit is located on to be eligible?
If you lease/rent the property, then you will need to provide permission from the property owner in writing with your submitted grant application.
Where can I submit my feedback and ideas for future St. Johns County programs/projects funded by the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA)?
St. Johns County is asking for community feedback on how phase II funds from the ARPA will be utilized. Your feedback is an important part of this process as St. Johns County works to provide the best possible plan for these funds.