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Viewing posts from: December 2020

NEW Minnesota State COVID-19 Relief Package Passed 12/15/20

Nicole Bengtson
Advocacy & Public Policy, Business Ideas, Editorials

The Minnesota Senate and House passed a state COVID-19 relief package.  The bill, SF 31, provides financial assistance to businesses impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and executive orders, extends unemployment insurance benefits and extends the deadline for free or reduced-price lunch applications.

Here is a summary of the relief provisions:

  • Business Relief Payments:  $88 million

$88 million will be distributed in grants to “qualified businesses” which were closed to the general public through Executive Order 20-99 (attached) – the most recent order closing certain businesses.  These businesses include restaurants, bars, breweries, distilleries, wineries, fitness and recreational sports centers, bowling centers, and specialty food stores.  Businesses must show a 30% decline in sales for the year, have a physical presence in Minnesota and meet other qualifications listed in the bill.  If qualified, the Minnesota Department of Revenue will distribute grants to businesses ranging from $10,000 to a maximum of $45,000.

  • Movie Theater and Convention Center Grants: $14 million

$9 million will be distributed in grants to movie theaters with indoor seating and $5 million will be distributed to with regional or statewide significance and a capacity of 1,500 or more.  These grants must be used for the direct operations and upkeep of convention center facilities.

  • County Relief Grants to Local Businesses:  $114.8 million

Funds will be distributed to all 87 counties on a per capita basis and the county will provide relief grants to local businesses.  The intention of this grant fund is to give flexibility to counties to make grants to individual businesses and nonprofits that have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and business closures, but may not have met the strict guidelines in the previous grant categories.

  • Unemployment Insurance Benefits Extension

Extends unemployment benefits for an additional 13 weeks to April 20, 2021.  Over 112,000 Minnesotans will be impacted by this provision.

  • Regulatory Relief

Several regulatory relief provisions are included in the bill including waiver of the caterer’s permit fees, permit fees for sales after 1:00 a.m., refund of the wastewater permit fees for brewers, and waiver of late fees for license renewals by food retailers, food manufacturers, food wholesalers, and food brokers.

  • Free and Reduced-Price Lunch Deadline Extension

The bill grants an extension of the deadline for school districts to report the number of pupils enrolled in the free or reduced-price lunch program.

A time to give thanks

Nicole Bengtson

Dear River Heights Community,

As I end my year as Chairman of the River Heights Chamber of Commerce, I would like to take this time to speak to the community as a small business owner myself. As we started this year, I spoke about vision and knowing we live in a world with so many possibilities. As the year progressed, I was reminded that while vision is important, great vision also requires focus. I know we are constantly inundated with news of all the challenges happening around us, however, it is important to focus on the things we have to be thankful for.

We can be thankful for the people we surround ourselves with – our business community, neighbors, family, friends and co-workers. Included in that mix are the connections that are created and strengthened through the River Heights Chamber of Commerce. We understand that involvement in the Chamber and business community has looked different this year. We are thankful for your resilience, transparency and support of the Chamber and others in the community to help where you could. For some, that was making or delivering extra food, handing out masks, making masks or hand sanitizer, helping clean up after vandalism or taking on extra cleaning and safety measures to keep your employees and customers safe. This time, now more than ever, we needed to support one another.

We can enjoy the opportunity of connecting with loved ones who are far away or our coworkers from working remotely through technologies we haven’t needed to use in that way before. We are thankful for the partnerships and connections we’ve made within the business community to share expertise and knowledge to others in need of person-to-person interaction and navigating uncharted waters.

Although it’s impossible to predict what the year ahead holds for us, we can be certain that it will be filled with both challenges and reminders of what’s important. I invite you to join me in focusing on the latter.

Cheers to a healthier year ahead –

Adam Bengtson, 2020 Chairman of the Board, River Heights Chamber of Commerce
President and CEO, Endorse Communications, LLC