Greater Mankato Growth Blog

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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Strong Electrical Efficiency Rebates Remain for Xcel Energy Customers

This is a guest blog post by Greater Mankato Growth member business, Laketown Electric Corporation, to accompany their Business Focus video:

There is little doubt that the advancement of LED has drastically changed the landscape of the electrical contracting market for the better. Five years ago, a two-lamp fluorescent fixture would consume roughly 59 watts would deliver approximately 4,000 lumens and would last approximately 20,000 hours. They were not controllable except for on/off or occupancy sensing both with a special ballast. Once the tubes failed, they needed to be recycled in a special manner. 

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COVID-19 Community Resource Grant Guidelines

Blue Earth County recognizes the important role certain community support organizations play in providing needed services for Blue Earth County residents, particularly in times of economic distress.  Community support organizations that help provide housing services, food, childcare programs, employment opportunities, and access to social and health services mitigate the demand on County social service and public health programs.

The County further recognizes that community support organizations have been impacted by the current economic environment caused by the COVID-19 public health crisis in much the same way as business have been impacted.  The County has, therefore, established a program to provide support for community organizations to assist those organizations in meeting the needs of Blue Earth County residents affected by the COVID-19 public health crisis.

The Blue Earth County Community Resource Grant Program will be administered through the County Administrator’s office.  Organization representatives who have questions or need assistance in completing applications should contact:

Blue Earth County Administration
Attn: Josh Milow, Deputy County Administrator
204 South Fifth Street,
PO BOX 8608 Mankato, MN 56002-8608
josh.milow@blueearthcountymn.gov 507-304-4109

Organizations are also encouraged to apply for all other available COVID-19 related funding programs offered by the U.S. federal government, the State of Minnesota and other granting/loaning agencies.  Organizations applying for and receiving funds through these programs are still eligible to receive a grant from the County. Prioritization will be given to organizations that have not received funding from other sources.

*Prior to applying, please read through the list of Eligible Organizations and Ineligible organizations.  Also, at the bottom of the page, the application process it outlined.  Applications will be accepted between October 14 and October 31, 2020.
COMMUNITY RESOURCE GRANT APPLICATION

Read more here about Eligible Organizations, Amounts and Uses of Grants and Application Process.

Untapped Talent: Refugees, Asylees and Immigrants

In May 2020, we published the first of a two part series in Connect Business Magazine. Our initial article spoke to why businesses should incorporate refugees, asylees and immigrants into their workforce. In the upcoming issue of Connect Business Magazine, part two will be published, which outlines some key community resources that can help businesses with this effort. As our initial article was published while businesses across our region were closed, we have received permission to republish a portion of the article below, for those who may have missed it:

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Additional Nicollet County Grant Funds Available to Help Small Businesses and Non-Profits

A second round of grant funding is being offered to small businesses and non-profits in Nicollet County that have been adversely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.  The first round of funding was offered in September.

Grant awards will be provided to businesses and non-profits that experienced interruption, closure or significant revenue loss as a result of the public health emergency.  Grant awards will be up to $10,000 based on eligibility.  Businesses and non-profits with up to 50 full-time equivalent employees can apply.  The first grant round was limited to businesses and non-profits with up to 20 full-time equivalent employees.

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The SBA and Treasury Have Just Announced an Expedited Forgiveness Process for PPP Loans of $50,000 or Less

The US Small Busines Administration and Department of the Treasury have announced that an expedited process has been created to apply for loan forgiveness for those who received Paycheck Protection Program Loans of $50,000 or less. With the exception of employers who, together with their affiliates, received loans totaling $2,000,000 or more, those who received loans of $50,000 or less can utilize SBA Form 3508S.

This new process has waived the reduction in loan forgiveness for eligible employers who did not maintain their employee headcount or were forced to reduce wages. Employers are also no longer required to show the calculations they used to determine their loan forgiveness amount. It has also reduced the amount of documentation required to be submitted along with the loan application; however, all records related to the PPP loan must be retained for six years after the loan forgiveness date as representatives of the SBA can request to view the file.

For businesses needing assistance with this form we recommend partnering with the Small Business Development Center. Businesses can receive assistance by going to myminnesotabusiness.com and choosing “Apply for Services”.

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Kicking off the 2020 Tour of Manufacturing

The South Central Tour of Manufacturing Partnership has been working hard to bring manufacturing to the public and to schools in a virtual format. Virtual tours can be viewed at TourofManufacturing.com.

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