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.
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.
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
The River Heights Chamber of Commerce has always been about being an organization built on values, connection, promotion, and being the voice of its business community, its stakeholders, its members – to advocate for their business’ needs, on issues that are important for them to thrive and succeed in our community. Over the years, the business members of the Chamber have expressed their reasons, their “why,” for being a member of this 117-year-old organization, and now, during a global pandemic, the Chamber is hearing and seeing these “Whys” playout and be cherished more than ever before.
“I joined the River Heights Chamber of Commerce to make local contacts and meet other business persons. As I got more involved in the chamber of commerce, I was learning from the experiences of my fellow chamber members and was able to incorporate that knowledge into my own business.” ~Kelton Glewwe, Roadware, Inc., South St. Paul
Relationships, connections and professional development have been shared at the forefront of why members of our community including our neighbors, our local businesses, our non-profits, our local and state elected officials, have participated, partnered and been involved in the initiatives of the River Heights Chamber.
While pillars of the Chamber’s initiatives of Networking, Advocacy, Business Development, Talent Attraction, Leadership Development, Buying Power may have had to take on a different look or approach during this year, they haven’t changed. The River Heights Chamber of Commerce still connects the needs of our members to decision-makers on every level. “Being a member of the River Heights Chamber of Commerce gives my business a unified voice with local, state and federal elected officials. Networking with other River Heights Chamber of Commerce members helps me find local suppliers. This saves costs and helps grow our local economy,” added Kelton Glewwe of Roadware, Inc. in South St. Paul.
So what is your “Why?” When you are thinking of your “Why” in the business decisions you make, we hope you are considering the River Heights Chamber of Commerce and how it can be a factor in your success.
“Belonging to the Chamber has helped me get to know many people and has provided me countless opportunities to interact with other chamber members to not only have fun, but to hear about their successes as well as struggles. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the resources and online seminars have been an inexpensive way to gain knowledge and interact with others while at home.” ~Karen Hanson, The Coop Restaurant, South St. Paul
The River Heights Chamber would love to hear from you about your “Why,” too! We invite you to share your positive business “Why” with us on the Chamber’s Facebook, Twitter or Instagram pages and use the hashtag #WhyRiverHeights – the Chamber will feature these excerpts in its Weekly Update e-newsletters in the coming weeks. Thank you to the above Chamber members for sharing their “Why” with us! We can’t wait to hear from more of the community!
The River Heights Chamber is here for you and your business and we know we are stronger together.
The Chamber will continue to be a catalyst in advancing the business community’s economic prosperity, providing countless resources and connections to ignite new growth and inspire leadership to shape a business-friendly region.
The River Heights Chamber of Commerce is excited to host its Fourth Annual Clay Shoot sponsored by Frattalone Companies on Wednesday, October 7, 2020, at the South St. Paul Rod and Gun Club. Beginners are welcome and encouraged to participate.
Clay or trap shooting is growing exponentially in popularity across all ages and genders. It is the only sport where men and women compete together on equal footing. No experience needed – Beginners Welcome! Novice or seasoned, it is time to test your skills.
Clay shooting is a sport you can enjoy by yourself or with a team. Brian Martell of MidWest Telecom, and Clay Shoot supporter believes, “It is a great environment for networking and a prime opportunity for businesses to sponsor the event. Businesses can sponsor a station, a sporting game or one of many other options.” Since first being introduced to the sport at the Chamber’s inaugural event, Martell now shoots regularly and uses his time at the Gun Club for team building and networking.
In addition to the traditional eight-station course, the event includes two popular games from last year. Players can vie for the title of Annie Oakley in the popular last shooter standing contest and teams of two can compete in the Duck Flurry, shooting from a duck tower that throws clays in multiple directions.
Prizes will be awarded to teams with the top course scores and the contest winners. Guns are available for those not using their own. Shells, protective eyewear and earplugs are provided at check-in. Registration, sponsorship opportunities and event details are available at www.riverheights.com/clayshoot2020.
Inver Grove Heights/South Saint Paul – The River Heights Chamber of Commerce invites the community to golf in the Chamber’s Annual Golf Classic fundraiser presented by Waterous Company on Tuesday, August 18th at Southview Country Club, 239 E. Mendota Road, West St. Paul.
August 18 is a new date, yet, we are looking forward to the same great fun the Golf Classic brings every year. Registration will begin at 9 a.m. with a breakfast-to-go pickup available for all golfers. For your convenience, passports are included in this year’s registration price and include one mulligan, one gimmie string and entry into both the putting and the chipping contests. The driving range is open for practice and shot-gun start for teams is at 10:00 a.m.
There will be many fun contests on the course, and a ball drop and boxed lunch following the day’s play that may be enjoyed on the patio or to-go. Due to current health considerations and course guidelines in compliance with State regulations for COVID-19, all golfers are to adhere to all safety and social distancing guidelines. Two golfers may ride in a cart (there is a plastic barrier in place between passengers). In addition, there will not be an awards banquet dinner; results of the tournament will be emailed to golfers the day following the event. Team photos will be taken on the course and shared in Chamber communications and social media following the event.
“Seeing people face-to-face is exactly the kind of change of pace I think many people are craving right now, and participating in the Golf Tournament is the chance to do that in a place that is safe, outside, supporting an area business and supporting the Chamber of Commerce,” says Chairman of the Board, Adam Bengtson. One of the most fun parts of the day is networking with the sponsors who sit at each hole on the course. “It’s always fun to see what unique events our sponsors come up with,” notes Michele Hein of Tandem Printing, Golf Task Force Chair.
Register yourself or your foursome to golf at the rate of $175/golfer. Special thanks to these businesses for being major sponsors of the tournament: Ameritek International, MidWestOne Bank, Mille Lacs Corporate Ventures and Sanimax USA LLC – to see more area businesses supporting this event or to register to play, visit us online at www.riverheights.com/golf2020 or call the River Heights Chamber of Commerce at 651.451.2266. The annual tournament is held rain or shine.
About River Heights Chamber of Commerce
The River Heights Chamber of Commerce is a business organization that aggressively promotes the interests of the business communities of Inver Grove Heights and South St. Paul. The organization is volunteer-driven and strives to attract and retain businesses to keep the business community thriving. The River Heights Chamber continues to provide value-added opportunities for all members. Visit our website www.riverheights.com to learn more!
About Southview Country Club
Southview Country Club is a premier 18-hole course whose sheer aesthetic beauty lies in stark contrast to the challenge it provides to golfers of every skill level. It is the kind of course you never grow tired of playing, and where you are always proud to bring your guests. Today, Southview is noted for its immaculate rolling fairways, mature trees and numerous water hazards featuring fountains and magnificent landscaping. And of course, the finest greens in this part of the country.
Inver Grove Heights/South St. Paul – The River Heights Chamber of Commerce is proud to announce that Colleen Murphy Roth has been named Interim President by the Board of Directors and commenced her role officially on June 15, 2020.
Colleen has been employed with the River Heights Chamber for two and a half years as the Director of Membership Development which has provided a solid building block for this transition. Previously, she worked in development with various nonprofits in the Twin Cities. Colleen also currently serves as the VP of Squirts for District 8 of MN Hockey.
The transition of roles came after former River Heights Chamber President, Jennifer Gale, announced that after 16 years of service she made the difficult decision to resign from the position and move to the private sector. Jennifer stated, “I wish to thank the Board members, both present and past, the membership for investing in the River Heights Chamber during my tenure and to the community leaders who have partnered with the Chamber to make our community a great place to live, work and play. I take great pride in the staff and the work plans we accomplished together to solidify the Chamber as the premier local advocate for business. It has been my greatest pleasure serving our business community and I am blessed to have had the chance to work with, learn from, and partner with the amazing leaders in the River Heights community.”
Colleen is excited for the challenges that lie ahead with the ever-changing business landscape and is committed to continuing to position the River Heights Chamber of Commerce as the premier resource for business in the community.
At a planning conference in November of 2019, the Board put together a work plan for 2020. Even with COVID-19, the Chamber has made a lot of initiatives into a new way of doing business in our regions.
Some highlights include:
• FOCUS ON DEMOGRAPHIC CLUSTERING – We have structured Chamber programming on demographic clusters to position the Chamber to be out front of the needs of incoming or elevating demographic subsets. Group involvement and participation is hardwired, regardless of the generational angst we feel in any given decade. We have an innate need to belong. Through weekly webinars we are providing programming in specific categories such as working from home, investments, tourism, retail, real estate, legal, HR and managerial staffing. We have seen more levels of staff participating because of the variation in our new virtual programming.
• INVEST IN TECHNOLOGICAL COMMUNICATION – Chambers are small business enterprises and, as such, must try to keep up with members and the world at large. Interpersonal connectivity and human relationships, especially if enhanced and maintained through electronic channels, will have more impact than ever. The River Heights Chamber has utilized platforms such as Facebook Live, Zoom and Microsoft Teams for meetings and group communications and events. The information availability has opened to members and community leaders that possibly couldn’t attend before.
• BRIDGE THE POLITICAL FRAGMENTATION Chambers have the potential to employ their considerable consensus-building experience and position of trust to provide workable alternatives to fringe dogma and out-of-hand dismissal of compromise. The Chamber acts as the convener of those who can find solutions, resources and political will. Articulating shared values, rather than divisive talking points, will be needed more than ever in the coming decade. The Chamber moderated a town hall meeting with Rep. Craig this spring to discuss the PPP and EIDL Small Business Loan programs. The Chamber has worked with our state legislators on all sides to secure additional unemployment, grants and state loans to assist local businesses in the pandemic. We are also working with the local governments to relax city ordinances while keeping in line with state policy to assist businesses in reopening in a safe, yet profitable, way. The River Heights Chamber of Commerce has positioned itself well in the middle and is advocating on behalf of all business in the community, regardless of political preference.
We invite businesses and the community to learn more about the resources and benefits the River Heights Chamber has to offer and see how we can help you during this challenging time by visiting our website at www.riverheights.com or contacting our Chamber staff. Colleen can still be reached at the River Heights Chamber at firstname.lastname@example.org.
April 23, 2020 (Inver Grove Heights, MN) – The River Heights Chamber of Commerce celebrated with the business community at its first-ever Virtual Small Business of the Year Award and Trade Show on Thursday, April 23.
“Our small businesses are a critical piece of our community, and as such, the River Heights Chamber felt like it was important to continue to celebrate business success during these challenging times and decided the show must go on,” noted Chairman of the Board, Adam Bengtson with Endorse Communications. The River Heights Chamber has held a traditional Salute to Small Business Award Luncheon and Trade Show for the past 31 years and found a creative way to highlight its members in a virtual trade show with business videos on the Chamber’s website and through a YouTube Playlist, as well as, have its keynote speaker (Scott Welle of Outperform the Norm) present, and award the 2020 Small Business of the Year recipient during a national pandemic. Check out the local businesses in the Virtual Trade Show at http://riverheights.com/virtualtradeshow.
Earlier this year, the Chamber accepted nominations from local community members who they felt rose above the crowd in how they conducted business. The River Heights Chamber’s Recognition Committee reviewed the applications and selected this year’s recipient, Mississippi Pub!
Joe and Melissa Harms, owners of Mississippi Pub in Inver Grove Heights, were honored with the River Heights Chamber of Commerce’s 2020 Small Business of the Year Award. Harms shared their philosophy and how they run Mississippi Pub as, “We want them (people), when they leave the Pub to be happy, be full, go tell their friends, bring them back, and just really enjoy their time that they spend at the Pub.” Mississippi Pub was started in 1999 by Joe’s father and sister – “there weren’t a lot of places on the river that you could boat up to, and have a beverage and some food, and take your family, so that was ultimately the driving force of why Mississippi Pub started,” Harms added, “plus it was a perfect location.” Joe started working as a bartender at the Pub on the first day it opened and now owns and operates the business from top to bottom. They have grown significantly over the years and did a remodel in 2016. Mississippi Pub is constantly expanding and growing, developing new food, ideas, drink menus, and continuing trying to adapt to the times.
The Small Business of the Year Award recognizes an organization that has been in business for five years or more, has 20 or fewer employees, has at least two years of membership in the River Heights Chamber, and encompasses a business that has a commitment to the community through its involvement and assistance to community organizations, to its employees, suppliers and customer relationships, in addition to, a commitment to excellence in service, business ethics, friendliness and business operations. Mississippi Pub outperforms in all of these areas, and they personally and professionally enjoy giving back to the community. Joe stated they donate to many organizations and benefits, sponsor events and volunteer their time through the River Heights Chamber of Commerce, as well as, he coaches youth athletics.
Joe and Melissa Harms, owners of Mississippi Pub and River Heights Marina added, “We appreciate being nominated for this award and we appreciate the support we get from the River Heights Chamber, it’s staff and all of its members. Thank you for moving forward with presenting us with this award.”
Congratulations to Mississippi Pub!
This event was supported by our generous sponsors, Town Square Television, Enbridge Energy, Minnesota Vikings Football, LLC, Microtel Inn & Suites By Wyndham and DoubleTree Hotel by Hilton Downtown St. Paul.
By Doug Loon, Minnesota Chamber and Jennifer Gale, River Heights Chamber of Commerce
Every employer and employee feels the unprecedented impact of COVID-19. Those of us in the network of state and local chambers, like the River Heights Chamber of Commerce, would like to thank employers and employees throughout Minnesota for navigating this crisis to mitigate the health impacts and keep our state moving forward. And if you are a business that is currently struggling or confused about the resources available to you, reach out to us. We can help- visit our business resources page at http://riverheights.com/covid19/.
Businesses are innovating and leveraging available resources. Minnesota is blessed with a landscape of innovative companies and skilled workers. Employers and employees are continuing to find ways to work safely, keep essential operations open, meet customer demands and protect critical supply chains. Most impressive, companies are showing their ingenuity to transform operations almost overnight to supply products and services critical to bringing this pandemic under control.
Chambers of Commerce share the goal of ensuring a healthy business community and economy. The stakes are higher today, and our efforts are escalated as we fight this pandemic. We are working tirelessly for our members – listening to their needs and responding in their best interest.
Chambers are bringing businesses together. Your local and state chambers work with businesses of every type, size and industry, and in every corner of the state. By listening to the needs of our members, we are able to make connections between challenges and solutions – during this crisis and long afterward. The River Heights Chamber has been sharing critical information to keep the business community abreast of the latest resources/tips/programs available to them, creating webinars and virtual events (like the Small Business Award Celebration on April 23 at 2:00 pm) to keep businesses informed and communicating with one another, as well as sharing the accomplishments and needs of its business members within the local community.
Chambers are advocating for employers and employees. Minnesotans’ health and safety are paramount concerns for all of us. We share the goal of our elected officials to reduce the spread of the virus and simultaneously protect the long-term strength of the private-sector economy. It’s a delicate balance, and we have worked with legislators, and Governor Walz and his administration to make decisions with this balance in mind.
Chambers are speeding resources and assistance to keep communities thriving. Every company is impacted by the state and federal directives related to COVID-19. Those deemed essential are doing what they can to keep shelves stocked and meet customer demands. If they were required to close their physical doors, many are continuing remotely or pivoting their operations. This was not their choice, but they are reviewing every funding option available to continue to make payroll, or act in good faith on behalf of their employees to keep their businesses open while mitigating health impacts.
The twists and turns of the pandemic are changing daily. Your chambers of commerce provide timely and trusted information to navigate this crisis. We know businesses are looking for funding and resources to mitigate this crisis. Your state and local chambers are here to help you navigate the various options and maximize the benefit for your business and employees. Our offices may be closed due to the “stay at home” order, but we are only a phone call or email away.
Businesses contribute to our shared quality of life in Minnesota. Generations-owned family companies and new entrepreneurial start-ups are equally important parts of our community’s and state’s story. The remarkable response of employers and employees everywhere is evidence that Minnesotans are well-prepared to weather this pandemic storm. Working together, we will position Minnesota to return to full productivity and full employment as soon as possible.
We are all feeling the pain from this worldwide pandemic in different ways. The River Heights Chamber is here to assist your business in any way possible; we remain committed to supporting you during these challenging times.
Our small businesses are a critical piece of our community, and as such, the Chamber is moving forward to bring you the Small Business Award and Trade Show virtually, to honor and recognize our Small Business of the Year and the importance of small businesses in our community.
Our 2020 Virtual Small Business Award and Trade Show will be held on Thursday, April 23 at 2:00 pm via a Zoom Webinar and is FREE to attend. Chamber Chairman, Adam Bengtson, will facilitate the 2020 Small Business Award Celebration and Best Selling Author of Outperform the Norm, Scott Welle, will share strategies used by high achievers to take your game to the next level, especially during this unique time. And for the grand finale, be there LIVE for the announcement and to honor the 2020 Small Business of the Year and watch their video during this webinar! You don’t want to miss it!
The Trade Show component is a popular piece to this event. All members are invited to participate in the Trade Show which will remain online, viewable and shareable through the end of the year. For only $35, a business can share its logo, messaging and/or a video to the Virtual Trade Show. This is an opportunity to be creative and interact as if it were sharing your business at a LIVE trade show. For example, you can include a link to download and print a coupon to be used at a later date or bring in the coupon for a free giveaway. The sky is the limit!
This event is supported by our generous sponsors, Town Square Television, Enbridge Energy, Minnesota Vikings Football, LLC, Microtel Inn & Suites By Wyndham and DoubleTree Hotel by Hilton Downtown St. Paul.
This afternoon, MN Governor Tim Walz issued an Executive Order directing Minnesotans to Stay at Home and limit movement outside of their homes beyond essential needs for two weeks. Stay at Home Executive Order Effective Friday, March 27th from 11:59 pm to Friday, April 10th. #StayHomeMN
The closures of bars, restaurants and other public accommodations are extended to May 1st at 5 pm.
This Executive Order authorizes the Commissioner of Education to implement a Distant Learning period beginning on March 30th until May 4th.
Minnesotans may leave their home to perform essential duties and are asked to maintain social distancing.
Workers who provide critical services to the people of MN at this time are exempt. The exemptions are based on federal Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) at the US Department of Homeland Security with some Minnesota- specific additions. This includes but is not limited to jobs in:
– Healthcare and public health
– Law enforcement, public safety, and first responders
– Child care
– Food and agriculture
– News media
– Water and wastewater
– Critical manufacturing
The River Heights Chamber of Commerce will continue to be a voice of reason, sharing factual information as it becomes available and we will work tirelessly to advocate for and support our local businesses and communities.
We will be funneling information down to you through our website and social media channels. The RHCC Members Only Facebook group, the River Heights Chamber Facebook page, our COVID-19 webpage that offers info from our partners, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Minnesota Chamber of Commerce, DEED and other useful resources. We are also updating our Facebook page with announcements and opportunities to support our businesses during these challenging times.
Adam Bengtson, 2020 Chairman, River Heights Chamber of Commerce
I swear we don't look a day over 119!
Thank you to our volunteer leaders- dating back to 1903! We are truly honored to have served our business community for 120 years and look forward to many more years representing our hard working businesses.
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What a great turnout for Let's Do Lunch at Inver Grove Brewing! We had overflow seating in the booths (sorry for those I missed in the photo!). Join us for our next Let's Do Lunch- the second Wednesday of every month at noon- February 8th at The Moose Lodge! pic.twitter.com/RAAv…
It's time to meet our 120th Annual Meeting Sponsors. First up- our Event Sponsor - Waterous Companies. Waterous has been the international leader in fire pump and waterworks for over 100 years. They are a proud South St. Paul based business. pic.twitter.com/mdnn…