United Way of Marion County and the Ocala/Marion Chamber and Economic Partnership (CEP) have come together to strengthen the community amid the Coronavirus crisis.
The two agencies are working to together to support local businesses and individuals/families who have been impacted by the unprecedented event.
United Way of Marion County has invested $150,000 to establish a fund to support Marion County residents who have experienced financial hardship due to COVID-19. The focus of the fund is to support the ALICE (Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed) population experiencing hardship due to decreased hours or unpaid leave. More than half of Marion County residents fall within the ALICE population and are living paycheck to paycheck.
The CEP has secured $500,000 from the Marion County Board of County Commissioners and the Ocala City Council to establish a loan program to assist small businesses impacted by closure orders and dwindling customers due to COVID-19. The goal of the program is to get funds out quickly to small businesses and assist them in maintaining jobs. Applications will be reviewed through the Marion County Industrial Development Authority, which is a public entity appointed by Marion County. The funds would be administered through the CEP Foundation.
“We know that over half of our population is struggling every day to make ends meet and are one unanticipated expense from experiencing financial hardship,” said Scot Quintel, president and CEO of United Way of Marion County. “COVID-19 has left many of our residents questioning how they are going to feed their family and keep their lights on.”
Specifically for Marion County residents, the COVID-19 Assistance Fund provides rent, mortgage and utility assistance to help prevent eviction and homelessness for community members. To be eligible to receive assistance, residents must demonstrate financial need specifically related to the COVID-19 pandemic and will be vetted by established programs through Interfaith Emergency Services and the Homeless Council of Marion County. For those seeking assistance, residents can contact United Way of Marion County’s 211 Information and Referral Crisis Line by dialing 2-1-1 or chat online at uwmc.org/211.
“Our community has shown incredible resilience and creativity over the last few years. We have tackled several issues with unique solutions based on community partnerships. To address significant business needs in a critical time, CEP is proud to partner with Marion County and the City of Ocala on the Local Working Capital Loan Program,” said Kevin T. Sheilley, President/CEO of the Ocala/Marion Chamber and Economic Partnership. “CEP is also working with CareerSource Citrus Levy Marion, the Marion County Hospital District, and several local businesses and organizations to provide informational webinars and direct support services to help businesses navigate the challenges they face at this time.”
Visit www.uwmc.org/COVID19 to learn how you or your business can get involved today and donate to the fund. All financial support directed to this fund will be used to provide basic needs to ALICE families in Marion County who have been negatively impacted by COVID-19 through United Way of Marion County’s programs or partner agencies.
Visit www.OcalaCEP.com/Covid-19-Updates for a comprehensive list of resources available for businesses, including webinars and links from federal, state and local resources.