DEED Rolls Out Main Street Covid Relief Grant Program
Minnesota State Capitol building Shutterstock

DEED Rolls Out Main Street Covid Relief Grant Program

Grants of $64.2 million available to small businesses across the state
Minnesota State Capitol building Shutterstock

As the Covid-19 pandemic grinds on, the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) has stepped up with another program to help struggling businesses. The Main Street Covid Relief Grant program offers $64.2 million to aid Minnesota-owned and -operated businesses that can demonstrate that they have suffered financial hardship due to Covid-19.

The program was approved by the legislature earlier this year. DEED is now accepting applications for the grants, but the window of opportunity is short: The application period will close on Wednesday, Sept. 29.

Larger companies are not eligible for the program. The grants are only available to businesses with 200 or fewer fulltime employees. The grants range from $10,000 to $25,000 depending on the number of employees in the organization.

These are available grant categories according to DEED. “FTEs” refers to “full-time equivalents.”

  • $10,000 – 6 FTEs or less.
  • $15,000 – Between 7 and 49 FTEs
  • $20,000 – Between 50 and 99 FTEs
  • $25,000 – Between 100 and 200 FTEs

Half of the funds are earmarked for businesses in Greater Minnesota and half are slated for the Twin Cities. Nonprofits and cooperatives are also eligible for the program.

DEED’s announcement of the program notes: “Businesses that are majority-owned by military veterans, women, and Black, Indigenous, and people of color individuals; employ 6 people or fewer; and/or did not receive previous assistance from other state relief programs will be prioritized in the selection process.”

The state has a list of restrictions on groups that are not eligible for the program. That list includes churches, government operations like a municipal liquor store, and businesses engaged in gambling enterprises. Businesses owners who operate a business in Minnesota but are not residents of Minnesota are not eligible.

The legislation that authorized the program set minimum amounts of money that must be awarded to businesses in certain categories:

  • $18 million for businesses with six or fewer full-time workers
  • $10 million for minority business enterprises
  • $2.5 million for businesses that are majority owned and operated by veterans
  • $2.5 million for businesses that are majority owned and operated by women

Potential applicants who are not computer savvy do not have an option to fill out an application with paper and a pen.

According to DEED’s answers in the “frequently asked questions” section of the program web site:

“Applications must be submitted through the online application portal. Public libraries may a resource in your area that can offer computer and internet access and assistance in scanning documents…The application portal may work with Microsoft Edge. However, it will work best using the freely and universally available Chrome browser.”

Businesses that previously received assistance from federal programs such as the Paycheck Protection Program or an Economic Injury Disaster Loan are eligible for the new Minnesota program.