There is no question that the COVID-19 pandemic has negatively affected businesses all over the nation, and throughout our local communities as well. In an effort to assist those local businesses the City of St. Cloud awarded $38,000 to local small businesses and nonprofits through its COVID-19 Economic Recovery & Stimulus Program, and there are still funds available!
With more than $200,000 remaining, local businesses are strongly urged to apply, and do it soon as applications will be accepted until the funding is depleted. The $250,000 program, funded through the St. Cloud/OUC Economic Development and Business Retention Fund, is designed to support any of the more than 1,300 registered small and mid-sized businesses in St. Cloud, and complements state and federal economic recovery initiatives.
To date, 56 applications have been received. In May, the City Council approved a suite of new programs totaling $1.25 million, designed to provide economic support to local businesses and non-profits facing financial hardship due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The program includes a three-phased approach, including grants for small businesses and non-profits, fee waivers for city services, and post-recovery economic efforts.
“This was our way of doing more than just talk about supporting our community, but to actually give support,” said Mayor Nathan Blackwell. “Although we’ve awarded funds to 13 companies, helping retain 23 local jobs, there still is money available, and we encourage more local businesses and non-profits to apply.”
The City’s focus is on local businesses that have had to close or drastically reconfigure operations, and new businesses that were just getting on their feet before the crisis hit.
The Non-Profit Grant Assistance Program offers up to $5,000 in funding to offset the loss of income directly related to COVID-19. The Small Business Grant Program offers up to $10,000 in assistance to help promote business continuity and longevity. To qualify, businesses must be located in the geographic boundary of St. Cloud, with no outstanding debts to the city. Businesses will be prioritized by industry, including: restaurants, bars, nightclubs, gyms, theaters, banquet halls, hair/nail/spa salons, and tattoo parlors.
In addition to the local funding, the federal Paycheck Protection Program has awarded $2.2 million to 89 St. Cloud businesses, retaining 46 jobs. Links to available local, state and federal funding sources are available on the City’s Web site, StCloud.org. Businesses also may email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.