The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) has announced that the Minnesota Main Street COVID Relief Grants Program applications will be accepted as of Monday, September 20, 2021. This program, approved by the Minnesota State Legislature and signed by Governor Tim Walz on June 30, will offer $64,200,000 in grants for Minnesotan-owned and operated businesses that can demonstrate a financial hardship due to the COVID-19 pandemic.Continue reading “MN Main Street Grants Program: Applications Begin September 20”
Minnesota’s 92nd legislative session ended their 2021 regular session on May 17th without a budget. The Governor and Legislative leaders instead released a budget framework with a target of $52 billion for the next biennium. Lawmakers worked for four weeks on final details largely outside of the public eye until they convened a special session on June 14th. All spending bills were passed and signed into law by June 31st.
The need for a special session was largely due to a late infusion of funding from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) that was signed into law by President Biden on March 11, 2021. Roughly $8.5 billion was allocated in the bill to the State of Minnesota for various programs.
A final budget of $52 billion was signed into law on June 31, 2021. This biennial budget is an increase of approximately $1.3 billion over the previous budget – much of that one-time funding from ARPA. Included in the bill are direct tax cuts of $644 million to people who lost jobs and employers who kept people working during the pandemic.
Paycheck Protection Program
The final tax bill included full conformity to federal tax law with regards to the Paycheck Protection Program at a cost of roughly $375 million in fiscal year 2022. Businesses and organizations that received PPP loans will not be subject to either federal or state income tax on the amount of the loan received.
Today, Greater Mankato Growth sent a letter to Governor Tim Walz providing statistics to create awareness of talent challenges facing our region.
The Department of Employment and Economic Development has taken great strides to ensure that individuals receiving unemployment insurance are aware of the job opportunities that exist across the state.
We asked that the State implement measures to supplement the work that is being done surrounding awareness of job availability by creating enforcement measures, while offering flexibility for those still impacted by COVID-19 considerations. You can read the full letter here.
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Governor Walz announced a three-step process that will lead to an end of COVID-19 restrictions in the May 6 address. Restrictions will be loosened at noon on May 7, 2021, all capacity restrictions will end by May 28, and the masking requirement will be removed when 70% of Minnesotans ages 16+ are vaccinated or by July 1, whichever comes first. Full text of Executive Order 21-21 can be found here.
The changes announced in the May 6 address are as follows:
STEP ONE: Noon on Friday, May 7
- Outdoor occupancy restrictions for restaurants, bars, and other places of public accommodation offering food, beverages, or tobacco products will be completely removed.
- Indoor capacity limit per table will increase from six to ten individuals per table.
- The closing curfew of 11:00 pm will be completely removed.
- Food and beverage businesses with sufficient indoor space to exceed the 250 person capacity restriction will be able to exceed that as long as they remain within 75% capacity and can follow Stay Safe Minnesota Guidance.
- Indoor public pool capacity will be set at 50%, not to exceed 250 people; however, spaces with sufficient capacity can exceed 250 people if they can follow Stay Safe Minnesota Guidance and stay within 50% capacity guidelines. All restrictions on outdoor pool areas will be removed.
- For fitness, recreation, indoor sports facilities, and other similar facilities, the 50% capacity guidelines will continue, but only for indoor spaces within the facility. Maximum indoor capacity of 1500 for spaces capable of following Stay Safe Minnesota guidelines will be removed. Mask restrictions for these facilities will only be required indoors.
- Indoor social gatherings will increase from 15 to 50 people.
- Total indoor capacity for entertainment venues will be removed if they can safely exceed 250 people while remaining under 50% capacity and follow Stay Safe Minnesota guidelines. All outdoor capacity for these spaces will be removed.
Greater Mankato Growth participated in the U.S. Small Business Administration webinar on April 28th to learn more about the Restaurant Revitalization Fund and its application process. In short, the Restaurant Revitalization Fund will allow restaurants, bars, and other similar entities (a full list of eligible entities can be found here) to receive a grant that covers all lost revenue in 2020 compared to 2019. Please note special rules apply to entities that opened after January 1, 2019 or that still haven’t opened. This blog post will first share how to apply and will then share additional details on the specifics regarding the program.
The SBA will open up the opportunity to create an account at restaurants.sba.gov this Friday at 8 a.m. Central Time by choosing “Register to start your application.” Applicants are strongly encouraged by the SBA to create their accounts on Friday and not to wait until Monday. The opportunity to submit an application will open on Monday, May 3, at 11 a.m. Central Time. The SBA holds that the website is designed to support expected traffic with all restaurants submitting applications at that time. Applicants are strongly encouraged by the SBA to submit their application at the first possible minute. Additionally, applicants are encouraged to review all documentation at the SBA’s webpage on the fund. Please note that a recording of the SBA webinar can be viewed at the end of the “How to Apply” section of this blog.
Edit: 4/29/2021 The SBA’s Restaurant Program Knowledge Database serves as a growing list of FAQs that may answer questions that you have specific to your business.
How to Apply
The first step applicants should take is registering (creating a login account) at restaurants.sba.gov on Friday at 8 a.m. Applicants that plan to submit their application via the point of sale (POS) providers Square or Toast do not need to register. Entities utilizing Clover or Aloha should still register. The only requirement when registering on Friday is that applicants must have a mobile phone as a text will be utilized to verify the login.
It’s key for applicants to to begin preparations ahead of the when the application process opens Monday May 3, at 11 a.m. Applicants can prepare by following instructions below, reading the program guide, having all documentation prepared in labeled PDFs, and completing the sample application. Applicants that have conducted this pre-work are expected to complete the application in roughly 25 minutes. The SBA encourages that restaurants that seek to apply should be prepared to submit their application in the first possible minute after the portal opens. The website currently handles more traffic than is expected on Monday and is not expected to crash.
In our blog post on the small business support included in the American Rescue Plan, it was clear that the Restaurant Revitalization Fund (RRF) will be a key opportunity for many of our hardest-hit businesses to recover. It is not yet known when applications for the RRF will become available, with the SBA stating that it will take “weeks, not months.” While full details of this program are not yet available, this blog post will dive deeper into what we know right now about the Restaurant Revitalization Fund, how it can be used, and how to prepare to take advantage of it. Click here to skip right to the section on how to prepare to apply.
What is the Restaurant Revitalization Fund?
As part of the American Rescue Plan, signed into law on March 11, 2021, Congress recognized the great burden placed on restaurants, bars, and other similar places of business with the creation of the Restaurant Revitalization Fund (RRF). This established a $28.6 billion fund that restaurants can use to cover up to all of their pandemic-related revenue losses. The amount is determined by subtracting 2020 revenue from 2019 revenue and providing a grant for the difference, minus any PPP loans received. For example, a restaurant that made $400,000 less in revenue in 2020 compared to 2019 and also received $100,000 in PPP loans would be eligible for a grant of $300,000. Separate calculations are used to cover businesses that opened in 2019, 2020, or haven’t opened yet. These grants are not taxable and expenses covered by them can still be deducted as normal. Note: The RRF does not contain enough to cover all eligible restaurants without additional funding from Congress. As such, businesses eligible for a first or second draw PPP loan are urged to continue to take advantage of that despite the fact that it reduces the amount of the RRF grant.
Today, Governor Walz announced reduced COVID-19 restrictions (Executive Order 21-11) for social gatherings, increases to business capacity limits, and increases to large venue capacity limits.
A summary was provided from the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic development:
Effective Monday, March 15th, at 12:00pm (Noon):
To make it easier to safely gather with family, we are doing the following:
- Social gatherings: Up to 50 people outdoors or 15 people for indoor gatherings, both without household limits.
- Religious services: Remove capacity limits but social distancing required.
This week, President Biden signed the $1.9 Trillion American Rescue Plan. This is the third major stimulus package passed by the Federal Government in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. While there has been much discussion about relief to individuals including a new round of $1400 stimulus checks & unemployment benefit extensions as well as increased funding for vaccine purchase & distribution, this blog post will focus on the relief programs impacting businesses including the creation of the Restaurant Revitalization Fund, expansions and changes to the PPP & EIDL loan programs, and expansions and changes to the Employee Retention Tax Credit Program. The full text of the law can be found here.
Restaurant Revitalization Fund
Edit: An updated post specific to the Restaurant Revitalization Fund & how to prepare for an application can be found here.
- Restaurants, bars, & other elligible entities will be elligible to apply for a grant equal to 2019 revenue minus 2020 revenue minus PPP loans already received.
- Businesses that opened in 2019 will determine their amount of grant eligibility by multiplying their average monthly gross revenue in 2019 by 12.
- Businesses that opened in 2020 that experienced operating losses will be elligible for a grant under a similar formula that covers losses incurred.
- Businesses that have not yet opened but that have already incurred payroll costs will be elligible for a grant that covers those expenses.
- *Note: Formulas for determining grant eligibility for all three above categories may be modified via SBA guidance.
Operating your business safely during a pandemic
Conducting business activities amid the COVID-19 pandemic takes careful planning to ensure employees and customers are safe and business goals are met. Mayo Clinic experts have carefully developed strategies and protocols focused on mitigating COVID-19 within the health care setting, where halting transmission is critical. They are also currently tailoring those strategies to support and advise businesses in settings outside of health care.
Mayo Clinic has refined its expertise and may offer advisory services in the following areas, which may be relevant to your business:
Effective Saturday, February 13 at Noon, Governor Walz has amended Executive Order 20-01 with Executive Order 20-07, loosening on COVID restrictions. Full details of the changes can be viewed in Executive Order 20-07.
The major changes are as follows:
- Capacity for private social celebrations & events (including but not limited to weddings, funerals, life milestones, family reunions, religious services, and other similar occassions) occurring at venues involving the consumption of food or alcohol has increased from 10 indoor & 15 outdoor to 50.
- Maximum capacity of indoor and outdoor space for restaurants, bars, gyms, & venues providing entertainment expanded from 150 to 250.
- Facilities allowing food and beverage consumption are allowed to remain open until 11:00 pm rather than 10:00 pm