Greater Mankato Growth Blog

New: Nicollet County Business Relief Grant Program

The Minnesota Legislature and Governor have passed legislation authorizing funding to Minnesota counties for relief grants to local businesses and nonprofits impacted by an executive order related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Small businesses and nonprofits in Nicollet County impacted by COVID-19 can apply to receive grants to help with expenses incurred during the pandemic.

Grant awards will be provided to eligible businesses and nonprofits that have been adversely impacted by a Minnesota Governor executive order related to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Applicants must also have experienced a financial hardship as a result of the public health emergency. Grant awards will be up to $10,000 based on eligibility.

For more information, visit: co.nicollet.mn.us/800/Nicollet-County-Relief-Grant-Program

Grant applications and IRS Form W9 must be emailed to grant@co.nicollet.mn.us or left in the Nicollet County Government Center drop box located on Mulberry St. in St. Peter by 4:30 p.m. on February 5, 2021.  

EEOC Guidance on Employer Vaccination Requirements

This is a guest blog post by Greater Mankato Growth member, Blethen Berens.

As COVID-19 vaccinations begin to take place in the United States, discussions are emerging about potential vaccination mandates from employers. In light of these discussions and questions, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has released guidance for employers on vaccination mandates and the interplay with various workplace anti-discrimination laws, such as the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.

The EEOC guidance on vaccinations indicates that employers can require that their employees be vaccinated against COVID-19, subject to certain federal and state anti-discrimination laws. Such vaccinations could be required and administered by the employer, required by the employer but administered by a third party (e.g. pharmacy or health care provider), or offered by an employer on a voluntary basis.

The process of deciding whether or not to establish a mandatory vaccination policy should involve consideration of anti-discrimination laws, non-legal business and practical considerations, and if a policy is established, clear communication with employees is critical.

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Grant for City Center Businesses

The City Center Partnership works to promote collaboration and foster investment in the City Center to attract and support the growth of a diverse array of business, customers, visitors and residents to the region. To assist in fulfilling this mission, the City Center Partnership and it’s associated geography (see map below) is a designated Main Street district. The Main Street district designation is part of the City Center Partnership’s national accreditation as a member of the Main Street America program.

The Main Street America program is offering grants to support brick-and-mortar small businesses in designated Main Street districts as they work to adapt to COVID-19 and prepare for the next phases of reopening across the country, while also helping to revitalize and strengthen older and historic commercial corridors. Grants of $5,000 to $10,000 will be awarded on a competitive basis. 

In order to be eligible for participation, applicants must meet the following criteria:

  • The applicant must be located in an Accredited or Affiliate Main Street America community or UrbanMain commercial corridor. This list is available here.
  • The applicant must be a for-profit business. 501c3 and 501c6 entities are not eligible. The applicant must be a business entity in good standing in the state in which it was formed and the state in which it does business. 
  • The applicant must operate a “brick and mortar” storefront located in an older or historic downtown or neighborhood commercial district. 
  • The applicant must employ less than 20 full time employees. 
  • The applicant must be an owner of the business. 
  • The applicant must be at least age 18 years or older.

Eligible grant expenses include but are not limited to:

  • Physical improvements to business space to meet relevant reopening requirements implemented because of COVID-19
  • Equipment to comply with public health and safety guidelines (i.e., touchless payment methods, automatic door open sensors, or disposable menus)
  • Fees associated with expanding the business to e-commerce sales
  • Other professional services, such as business plan modifications
  • Rent, payroll, and other operating expenses

Applications will open at 12pm EST/ 11am CST on Thursday, January 21 and continue to be accepted through Thursday, January 28 at 7:59pm EST/ 6:59pm CST. The application and additional information can be found here: https://www.mainstreet.org/howwecanhelp/brother

Does Your Business have a Shared Vision?

Over the last several months, businesses have been impacted by COVID-19 in many ways. Some industries have been impacted more severely than others. Across the board, businesses have had to act and adjust like never before. Joe Paulsen with Pinnacle Business Traction would like to help you with ensuring that your company has the Traction it needs to overcome current and future challenges. The following is part two of a guest blog series where Joe will share tips on how you can gain traction in difficult times.  

Do you know what your organization will look like on 12/31/2021?  How about 12/31/2023?  How about at the end of 2030?  Is your vision clear to you and is it clear to all of your employees?  Just imagine if every one of your employees could vividly see your vision and are rowing just as hard as you are to get there.  How easy would your organization run and how confident would you be in achieving the results that are expected?   The Vision Key Component clarifies that question for you and everyone in your organization.  You and the rest of your leadership team currently all have a vision for your business, but there are likely differences.  We need to consolidate your individual visions to come up with the organization’s collective vision.  Once you have a vision of where the organization is heading, it makes the planning process much easier.  There are eight questions that need to be answered and agreed upon by your leadership team to have a great vision and plan:

What are your Core Values?

What is your Core Focus?

What is your 10-Year Target?

What is your Marketing Strategy?

What is your 3-Year Picture?

What is your 1-Year Plan?

What are your 90 Day Rocks (objectives)?

What are all other Issues for your organization?

Now that your vision and plan is written and agreed upon, we need to make sure that it is shared by everyone in your organization.  It will be critical that everyone can see where you are going and that they want to be a part of that journey.  We will talk more about this next week when we introduce you to the People Key Component.

Joe Paulsen and Pinnacle Business Traction’s passion is to Enrich the Lives of Entrepreneurs and Business Leaders in the Mankato area.  He has been implementing EOS since 2016 and has helped entrepreneurial organizations get everything they want from their organizations.  Please reach out to him if you are wanting more information or assistance:  joe@pbtraction.com (Meet Joe)

GMG is offering the best-selling book Traction – Get a Grip on Your Business to members wanting to learn more about the Entrepreneurial Operating System. Please email jsprague@greatermankato.com to schedule a time to pick-up your free copy at the GMG office.

Governor Walz Turns Dial Forward

Governor Walz announced today that the dial will turn forward on current COVID-19 restrictions effective January 11, 2021.  Major changes include the reopening of restaurants and bars, indoor events and entertainment, movie theaters, youth sports, and gyms restrictions being loosened. Walz also announced that business relief checks will be sent in the next week. Full details can be found in Executive Order 21-01 or Minnesota’s Stay Safe Plan.

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Has your business lost its traction over this past year?

Over the last several months, businesses have been impacted by COVID-19 in many ways. Some industries have been impacted more severely than others. Across the board, businesses have had to act and adjust like never before. With new operations often being implemented quickly, out of necessity, there could be the opportunity to reflect on whether these changes will be implemented more long term as industry demands and consumer preferences continue to evolve. This might be the perfect time to look back to see if your business is in need of a strategic analysis to ensure that your company has the Traction it needs to overcome current and future challenges. Joe Paulsen with Pinnacle Business Traction would like to help you with that. The following is part one of a six part guest blog series where Joe will share tips on how you can gain traction in difficult times.  

When the world seemingly “shut down” this past March, my initial concern was for all of my clients.  Would their customers continue to buy from them? Would their employees still be able to come to work? Would their cash hold out until things got back to “normal”? 

As I contacted them to help them with their issues, I was relieved that most simply attacked the COVID related issues as just another issue that they needed to solve for their organization. They all made the necessary adjustments, and nobody scrapped their annual plans that we had set 1-2 quarters earlier.  Fast forward to the end of 2020 and I am pleased to see that the majority of my clients have had a successful year. This group has reported a 2020 revenue decrease of about 2% over 2019, however their average profits increased 35% in 2020!

These basics are all included in the Six Key Components™ of the Entrepreneurial Operating System® (EOS®) and surviving a crisis like we are all experiencing, it has become clear to me why these are so essential. For the next five weeks, I will dive deeper into the critical EOS Key Components with the hopes that there will be tips/ideas that all GMG members will pick up to help your businesses accomplish all of your goals, no matter what challenges are ahead of us.   

Joe Paulsen and Pinnacle Business Traction’s passion is to Enrich the Lives of Entrepreneurs and Business Leaders in the Mankato area.  He has been implementing EOS since 2016 and has helped entrepreneurial organizations get everything they want from their organizations.  Please reach out to him if you are wanting more information or assistance:  joe@pbtraction.com 

GMG is offering the best-selling book Traction – Get a Grip on Your Business to members wanting to learn more about the Entrepreneurial Operating System. Please email jsprague@greatermankato.com to schedule a time to pick-up your free copy at the GMG office.

FAQ: COVID-19 Business Relief Package

With the recent passage of the federal COVID-19 Business Relief package, businesses may have questions as it pertains to the legislation’s impact to their existing PPP Loan, whether they could get a PPP Loan now, or what other programs were funded as a result of the relief package. 

Below are some Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) and responses from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and additional insight from Tyler Petzel of Abdo Eick & Meyers (AEM). 

Additionally, here is a related helpful article from Eide Bailly.

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Federal COVID-19 Relief Package

Congressional leaders have reached a deal on a bipartisan economic stimulus package, which was passed by both chambers late on December 21, 2020. Comments by President Trump expressing concern with the omnibus spending bill the relief package was attached to and asking for increased stimulus payments for individuals raise questions on the status of the bill.

The program includes numerous stimulus efforts aimed at businesses, including major expansions of both the Paycheck Protection Program and the Employee Retention Tax Credit, and consumers, including $600 payments to all qualifying individuals and dependents. Here’s what we know regarding these, and other elements of the bill (note that this is not an exhaustive summary of the 5593 page long document, but rather highlights of key elements most relevant to businesses and individuals in our area):

Note: Blog has been updated 12/22/2020 after Congressional approval of the bill.

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MN Governor Announces Dial Back on Social Activities

Today, Governor Tim Walz announces Executive Order 20-99 taking effect on Friday, November 20 at 11:59 p.m. (CST). 

In general, key points from the Governor’s announcement include: 

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Shop Local This Season and Beyond

We’re fast approaching the holiday shopping season and whether you start shopping before Halloween, or wait until the last minute, there is a big emphasis on supporting local businesses this year.

Whether you realize it or not, YOU are playing a role in our community and YOU are individually stimulating the local economy with your support and in turn, helping support Greater Mankato’s unique character and personality. When you support local, money is kept in the community because locally-owned businesses often purchase from other local businesses, service providers, and farms. Purchasing local helps grow other businesses as well as our region’s tax base. In fact, for every dollar spent at a small business in the U.S., approximately 67 cents stays in the local community. So when you support local all year long — you can help create a BIG IMPACT.

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Governor Walz Announces Changes to Social Setting Limitations

Today, Governor Tim Walz announced Executive Order 20-96 (click the link for full details) , taking effect on Friday, November 13 at 10 p.m. (CST).  The announcement amends Executive Order 20-74 with specific steps for social gatherings and guidelines for bars and restaurants. 


In general, the order calls for the following measures: 

  • Limits all social gatherings (indoor or outdoor) to 10 people and all social gatherings involving members of more than 3 households (regardless of the size of the gathering). 
  • Bars, restaurants, food courts, cafes, coffeehouses, taverns, brewery taprooms, wineries, golf courses and clubs, dining clubs, tobacco shops, and other places of public accommodation offering food, beverages, tobacco products for on-premises consumption, are required to close by 10 p.m. every day, starting Friday, November 13. Delivery service, or curbside pick up options already in place for certain industries in this group is still allowed. 
  • Venues that host celebrations, receptions, and gatherings will be capped at 50 people, effective November 27 at 10 p.m. 
  • No bar seating service.
  • This figure is reduced to 25 people on December 11 at 10 p.m.  

The Governor also announced a proposal for $10 million in additional funding to businesses that have already applied for relief through the Small Business Relief Grant Program.  This program provides $10,000 grants to impacted businesses. 

#GoodJobsNow – DEED Launches Campaign to Connect the Unemployed With Quality Jobs

Want a free way to leverage promotion of your employment opportunities to the whole state? The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) has just launched the #GoodJobsNow campaign, an initiative designed to let job seekers know that companies across multiple industries are still hiring for quality jobs that pay a living wage. In the announcement of the campaign, DEED Commissioner Steve Grove said, “Right now, as many Minnesotans face uncertainty, DEED is working to provide job seekers with job opportunities and career training resources through virtual CareerForce services, our regularly updated 30 Jobs in Demand list, the Dislocated Worker Program and now the #GoodJobsNow visualization.” Target industries for this campaign in the Greater Mankato Area include manufacturing, healthcare, agriculture, transportation, construction, and IT.

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