On the first day of the 2020 special session, the Minnesota Senate passed legislation to appropriate over $60 million for small businesses who are in crisis due to the stay at home orders and the coronavirus pandemic. The bill takes $60 million from the federal Coronavirus Relief Fund and $2.5 million from the Small Business Guarantee Loan program to provide relief grants to Minnesota small businesses. During regular session in May, the bill passed the Senate with bipartisan support, but it did not reach the finish line. Over the last few weeks, additional discussion has produced new compromise built on the previous bill resulting in substantial bipartisan support for the final vote today.
“I get contacted just about every day from workers and small business owners who tell me heartbreaking stories about the situations they are in because of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Senator Jeremy Miller (R-Winona). “This bill will help provide important assistance to many small businesses throughout the state. For many of them, it can mean the difference between making it through this pandemic and closing their doors forever. I am very happy we were able to get this done so quickly for our local businesses.”
A business is eligible if it has a brick and mortar location in Minnesota, is owned by a permanent resident, employs 50 or fewer full-time staff, and can demonstrate financial hardship as a result of COVID-19. Once approved, eligible businesses may receive grants of up to $10,000 to use for working capital to support payroll expenses, rent, mortgage payments, utility bills, and other similar business expenses.
The bill designates $31.25 million to be distributed to businesses in Greater Minnesota and $31.25 million for distribution in the seven-county metropolitan area. At least $18 million of the funds would be designated for microbusinesses of six or fewer employees. A minimum of $15 million must be distributed as follows – $10 million to minority-owned businesses, $2.5 for veteran-owned businesses, and $2.5 million for women-owned businesses.
Additionally, a minimum of $2.5 million in grants will be awarded to operators of permanent indoor retail space and food markets with an ethnic cultural emphasis. Grants of up to $250,000 will be available and funds must be used and distributed to maintain existing tenets, prioritizing 50% for rent forgiveness.