Email, Phone, or Text – Which Is Best for Communicating with Customers?

Customer Texting is in Demand

According to one study, 63% of respondents said they would switch to a company that offered text messaging to communicate. That’s not surprising when 92% say they expect to wait on hold five minutes or more before speaking to a human being.

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MN Main Street Grants Program: Applications Begin September 20

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.

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Employee Retention Credit: 7k Quarterly Wage Subsidy per Employee for 2021

The COVID recession isn’t over for everyone. For businesses still struggling to return to 2019 revenue levels, the tax law has a lifeline: a refundable tax credit of up to $7,000 per-employee, per-quarter.

It’s easy to see how $7,000 per quarter, per employee, can add up. For a qualifying company with 50 employees, for example, it could mean as much as $1,400,000 in benefits for 2021.

The Employer Retention Credit was first enacted early in 2020 as a tax credit of up to $5,000 per employee for 2020. It applies to taxpayers who have either:

  1. Had a full or partial suspension of business due to a government order, or
  2. Had a significant decline in gross receipts.
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Recovering from Financial Data Loss: What to Know About Forensic Data Reconstruction

When financial data has been lost or destroyed, it’s imperative that organizations have their data reconstructed quickly and efficiently in order to move forward. Forensic data reconstruction allows organizations to recreate their accounting systems.

Here’s what you need to know about financial data loss and how forensic data reconstruction can help.

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How To Attract and Retain Employees

Are you struggling to hire quality employees? Has the shortage of employees struck you hard? This is not going to be alleviated anytime soon. COVID-19 accelerated numerous retirements, spurred entrepreneurship, or pursuit of other opportunities while people were furloughed, and with the challenges of finding daycare, many two income homes have found a way to survive on one income, while a stay-at-home parent develops a side hustle replacing a job. And we won’t even get started on the extra unemployment income (but do you really want those employees back anyway?).

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Why Security Matters to Your Employee Benefit Plans

Employee benefit plans are a common perk for many organizations. They are often seen as a necessary employee benefit, but they also come with a strong need for compliance. Specifically, ERISA-covered group health plans and retirement plans can be subject to HIPAA privacy and security laws, assurance and audit requirements and more.

Cybersecurity is often not a focus for many organizations’ employee benefit plans. After all, what would a cybercriminal want with an employee benefit plan?

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Greater Mankato Growth Sends Letter to Governor Walz

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 Announces Timeline to End all COVID Restrictions in Minnesota

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.

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Restaurant Revitalization Fund – Be Prepared to Apply Monday at 11 a.m.

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.

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The American Rescue Plan – Updates to the FFCRA’s Paid Sick Leave and Expanded FMLA Provisions

The following is a guest blog by Greater Mankato Growth member, Blethen Berens. In it they highlight two important elements of the American Rescue Plan as it relates to employee leave.

On March 11, 2021, President Biden signed into law the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (hereinafter referred to as the “ARPA”). ARPA provides, among other things, important changes to the paid sick leave and expanded family and medical leave originally provided for under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) for employers with less than 500 employees. The most important thing to note is that these leave options are completely voluntary for employers: Employers are not required to offer either emergency paid sick leave or paid FMLA leave to their employees under ARPA, but there are tax incentives available to encourage employers to voluntarily offer this paid leave.

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