Dakota County Grants $10 Million in COVID-19 Relief to Small Businesses
Grants up to $10,000
APPLE VALLEY CHAMBER NOTE: A few weeks ago, we published in Apple Slices a letter sent to our County Commissioners written by Hastings, Apple Valley, Burnsville and River Heights Chambers of Commerces together. While our voices for business were not the only voices, we think collectively we are the most important voice and we appreciate all that our County Commissioner Chris Gerlach did for our business community along with the other Commissioners who voted for this much needed relief. Ultimately, all money begins somewhere with businesses so having businesses in effect be rebated is good money put to good use and will only bring more revenue back to the county later with stronger surviving businesses. We thank them.
Dakota County Provides $10 Million in COVID-19 Relief to Small Businesses
Grants up to $10,000 available for eligible applicants

The Dakota County Board of Commissioners has approved the Small Business Relief Grant program to provide $10 million from the county’s allocation of federal CARES Act funds to assist small businesses that have suffered financially due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Grants of up to $10,000 will help businesses cover payroll, rent, mortgage payments, utility bills and other operational expenses since March 1, 2020.

“Small businesses are the threads that keep our communities connected and provide important jobs and resources for residents,” said Dakota County Board Chair Mike Slavik. “Through this program, we hope to stabilize businesses hit hardest during temporary closures and business changes as a result of COVID-19.”

The county is partnering with the Dakota County Community Development Agency (CDA) and program administrator NextStage to provide the small-business grants.

“I encourage all businesses who may be eligible for these grants to apply,” said Commissioner Chris Gerlach, who also serves as CDA board chair. “We know our businesses have suffered tremendously, and every job we can save means more economic security for all us during these challenging times.”

To qualify, businesses must: 
  • Be able to demonstrate financial hardship as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Employ the equivalent of 50 or fewer full-time workers.
  • Be a private for-profit business that has a permanent physical location in Dakota County.
  • Be majority-owned by a permanent Minnesota resident.
  • Be in good standing with the Minnesota Secretary of State and Minnesota Department of Revenue as of March 1, 2020.
  • Be in good standing with Dakota County and the city where the business is located.

The online application will be available Monday, July 27. The application deadline is 4:30 p.m. Friday, Aug. 14. Only one application needs to be submitted per business. Incomplete applications will not be accepted. If the number of applications exceeds available funding, a randomized selection process will be used.

A business that has applied for the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development grant program should also apply to the Dakota County program in case they aren’t selected in the state process.

For complete grant information, visit: www.dakotacda.org . For questions, call 651-675-4481 or email smallbusiness@dakotacda.state.mn.us .
DEED Call for Business
Notes from Today's Conference Call 7/23/20

—-Mask mandate overview direct from DEED Commissioner today
—-Disposable masks being distributed by Chambers for Businesses to offer customers in need.
—-Mask mandate preparedness plan updates
—-Local Governments received $600 million so far
—-Local EDA, Federal law lets cities distribute as they see fit without state limitations because the federal law explicitly allows for grants

—-Chamber distribute to businesses in need for customers
—-Masks in manufacturing even where there are no customers
—-Gyms and masks (exempt while actually working out)
—-Face shields not as effective as masks
—-Outdoor farmers markets, outdoor events, golf tournaments
—-League of MN Cities and Grants
—-if Federal money for cities to issue grants, must be used in timeline
—-State SBRG Loans and can they release a company’s name
—-Can remove mask when testifying or public speaking
—-Chambers who are 501c-6 organizations and state money
2020 07 23 Call, DEED
Thursday, July 23, 2020
10:59 AM

Steve Kelley, Commissioner of Commerce
Nicole Blissenbach, Asst Commissioner of Department of Labor and Industry 
Cynthia Bauerly, Asst Commissioner of Revenue
Steve Grove, Commissioner of DEED
Kevin McKinnon, Deputy Commissioner of DEED
Darielle Dannon, Legislative Director
See Yang, Administrative Business Partner (Anna Peterson, DEED Chief of Staff gone today)
DEED, Steve Grove
  • Mask mandate
  • Goes into effect on Saturday.
  • Big step in our journey in this crisis. Health benefits are undisputed, and ability for us to increase usage based on a mandate is really clear - as is the ability for us to do more with our economy and open up further if we have broad compliance. 
  • #1 easiest, cheapest way to slow the spread and get the economy moving.
  • In many ways, following the lead of businesses.
  • Consistent standard across the state is helpful, "leveling the playing field," so to speak.
  • Approx 28 states have such mandates
  • Overview
  • Employees and customers (even those not customer-facing).
  • Clear signage at point of entry
  • Update COIVD-19 preparedness plan to include this requirement
  • When someone comes in and does not wear mask, we ask the business handle thoughtfully and carefully, according to their normal policies/procedures. Engage and ask. Reasonable effort to address.
  • Health exemptions (no proof required), and children 5 and under.
  • Starts with the individual commitment.
  • Commonsense exceptions: heavy exertion, working alone. Just wear it when, again, you are withing 6' of other people in an indoor setting.
  • Workers wear outside as well, in close-quarter outdoor work.
  • www.Staysafe.mn.gov
  • Disposable masks being distributed
  • Allows businesses to offer to customers as appropriate.
  • One-time shipment. 
Commerce, Steve Kelley
  • Re mask requirement: remind people that one authorized exception is temporary removal for purposes of determining someone's identity. Banks and credit unions have provisions for asking incoming customers to stop, remove mask, for purposes of a camera, providing for security.
  • Not specifically COVID-related: coming August 1 implementation of key actions of Legislature this year: adoption of law that enables financial institutions to watch out for suspect transactions that involve seniors, vulnerable customers. Similar law in place re securities professionals, where there were concerns that a customer might be the victim of a fraud or exploitation. That concept is now extended to banks/credit unions as well. Increased risk right now, due to more isolation of seniors. 
  • Marty Fleishacker, Senior Protect Ombudsman is available.
DLI, Nicole Blissenbach
  • Re mask mandate: businesses update preparedness plan. Template plan and industry guidance have been updated as well. www.staysafemn.us
  • Also available, MDH website, FAQs related to the EO.
  • When you update your preparedness plan, also train workers so they know responsibilities and potential consequences.
  • Construction Codes and Licensing Division: licensing exams have resumed in St Paul office, Tue, Wed, & Thurs. going smoothly.
Revenue, Cynthia Bauerly
  • Re local govt distributions… have distributed about $600M of the $841M so far to local govts.
  • $200M more in the next few days… all by August.
  • Active conversations about grants to businesses/individuals.
  • Question re local govt needing an EDA to provide grants? We thin the federal law would preempt any state limitations on those grants because that law explicitly allows for grants.
  1. Chambers are distributing masks, can you review process? Grove: working with State Emergency Ops Ctr on disbursement. Looked at the counties within the state, found chambers within as the "focal point" for distribution. Had a call with them yesterday to walk through the process. They are point but their goal is to get them out to their entire county.
  2. Will local chambers receive $ to help pay for their distribution work? Grove: there will be no cost. State is paying for shipping. No grant goes with it.
  3. Will you release list of chambers who received masks? Grove: chambers will be vocal about it… nothing private about it.
  4. Mask mandate: with new requirement indoors, how does it apply to mfg environments since not public, and social distancing rules are followed. Are masks required? Grove: core principle here is that mandate protects both workers and customers. So it should exist even where there are no customers. In certain work environments, where you can work alone or in great distance from others, or heavy physical labor…. In these cases, can take mask off. Including in an office/cube/separate work area… otherwise, wear them.
  5. Mask mandate: Are gyms and fitness ctrs considered exempt while working out? Grove: yes. Keep socially distanced when exercising. Again, common sense.
  6. Mask mandate: Does it apply to private businesses, like industrial facilities? Grove: yes.
  7. Mask mandate: Does EO apply to outdoor farmers markets? Grove: does not apply for customers. That said, strongly encourage people who will come within 6' of someone else to wear a mask. For workers, wearing a mask is required if you can't maintain social distancing. 
  8. Mask mandate: Do face shields comply? Grove: not as effective as cloth masks, but there are instances where they are an appropriate exemption. i.e. physical exertion or heat or child care settings… . Should go below chin.
  9. Mask mandate: Is there an exemption for federal or state workers? i.e. postal workers exempt? Are they? Grove: not sure… we do have some exemptions for judicial/legislative settings… Blissenbach: EO does define "business" and "worker" pretty broadly… not a specific exemption. Does mention that the EO won't restrict operations of the federal government," but don't think that applies here.
  10. Mask mandate: Now that there's a mask mandate, will you consider lifting the 250-max for venue capacity? Grove: recognize that's the sector most held back still; and yet, most likely environment to spread. Outdoor is safer than indoors, so thinking of them in separate ways… Governor not yet turning the dial on the 250-gap. Did make slight policy change yesterday re outside events: standard had been for gatherings people in pods of 250 so long as they have their own "unique area" and separate entrance/exit points… in outdoor settings now up to 1500 people (6 pods of 250…). IS an option that is safe from a health perspective. Mask mandate is intended to pave the way for future openings… active discussions there.
  11. Mask mandate: are shotgun-start style of golf events allowed? Are masks required to wear outside in a cart with someone not in your household? Grove: I know of no prohibition against. And masks not required in the cart. Strongly encouraged of course. 
  12. Mask mandate: can you help with graphics for emails/websites to help with distribution communications? Grove: wanted chambers to be able to take their own credit, but if they want help re capacity, happy to help.
  13. Revenue: re disbursements received disbursements from Dept of Revenue. Is tehre a contact at Revenue or Treasury to answer questions re eligible questions beyond the FAQ document online? And can it be used to fund actual grants or only for administration of grants funded from other sources? Bauerly: federal guidance is clear that the $ can be used for the grants themselves. Re expenses that can be covered… MMB is handling this work at state level. Go to FAQs online and there will be contact information as well. Amy Jorgenson, State Controls, is in charge of monitoring Coronavirus Relief Funds at a state level… she has been hosting and answering questions through groups like League of MN Cities conference calls, Initiative Fdn in Central MN… opportunity to gather more around specific expenditures. Can make that happen. In the meantime, send them to DEED who will get them to us at Revenue/MMB.
  14. If a cty transfers funds to a local organization to administer funds, must they be actually out to the end user by EOY? Bauerly: as we read federal guidance, not sufficient that $ be distributed to the EDA or business. Must be EXPENDED by the recipient within the timeline.
  15. Mask disbursement: announcement came from DEED indicating that disbursement will be later this week. Peterson: shipping masks by Friday, will receive probably by Monday. Moving as quickly as we can.
  16. SBRG: can we get aggregated data re applicants/city? And how many granted? Will help cities determine need and additional CARES funding. McKinnon: a law disallowing us from disclosing applicants of programs. We will try to ww applicants to get their permission to allow us to share information with the counties.in the process of verifying lottery winners, so the final "awardees" list is still TBD.
  17. Are there regulations around govt meetings? Can we remove masks when addressing council members? Grove: yes, exemption in EO re public meetings, testifying, etc.
  18. Chambers are still excluded from economic aid package. Has state considered how to offer assistance to 501c6 organizations? Grove: it's a fair question. Far more need than $... Has focused on small businesses… and targeted communities….
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