|8/11/2020 4:07:00 PM|
Application set for small business relief grants
The Chisago County Board August 5 authorized the small business relief grant application, clearing the way for county businesses to apply for $10,000 max grants, to help pay expenses related to Covid-19. The grants are not meant to replace lost revenues, but can be applied to cover excessive expenditures to enact coronavirus measures and employee protections between March and December 2020.
A small business is 50 or fewer employees. The businesses that are eligible in this first wave of funding needed to be among those that were ordered to shutdown.
The business must be located in Chisago County.
This is the first phase of aid. A second wave of grants will be available, with applications openings August 31.
All small business relief grant applications for Chisago County close September 21. If the full $1.4 million doesn’t get distributed, the county will still have time then (through December) to use any unspent part.
Hoffman estimates about a two week timeframe to review and allocate applications.
County Administrator Chase Burnham reminded the Board the federal and state authorities provide “constantly changing guidance” on these CARES Act funds, so the Chisago County Covid-19 Response Committee was formed to help direct the use of the $6.7 million Chisago has been allotted. (Cities and townships are overseeing their own funds, allocated based on population.) The form and policy was preliminary wording from the committee.
Commissioner George McMahon commented to just keep the forms and process simple as possible. “We want to get as much money out to businesses that need it,” he stated.
Nancy Hoffman, Chisago County HRA/EDA Executive Director said the first phase of the grant applications could be ready by Monday Aug. 10.
The County Board also increased the amount earmarked for business relief from $1 million discussed earlier (Press story July 30) to $1,400,000.
Commissioner Chris DuBose made the motion for increasing the amount of aid and also sought requiring a 20 percent match from participating cities. The 20 percent was dropped when Hoffman mentioned that one city doesn’t want county involvement and another couple of cities offered to chip in 30 percent-- of the $10,000 max grants.
The approved motion encouraged cities to provide some portion of the business relief. Hoffman said the grant applications are reviewed and she can discuss levels of assistance with cities where the businesses are located, and determine needs.
The rest of the county’s several million in CARES Act funding is being budgeted for countywide public safety and public health expenses, and unplanned Covid-related capital items.
The application forms will be online at www.chisagocounty.org or the county HRA/EDA office at 38871 7th Avenue, North Branch 55056 (west of Legion Post on one-way) Expect to provide bills or invoices paid or unpaid, to support your business expenses claims.
If you have gotten another Covid program funding allotment, the state’s small business SBEL Awards for example, you are not eligible. Don’t try to double-dip, the county warns, because one or both may have to be paid back, if authorities in later audits encounter ineligible awards.
The state SBEL (loan program) was at zero interest and if awardees of this keep their business in operation, 50 percent of the loan is forgiveable. In Chisago County there were just three loans for $85,000 total, two for the maximum $35,000 and one for $15,000.
There’s also a state business relief program with awardees being announced in late August. These are alloted by random drawing and DEED announced there have been 27,400 who applied.