On May 14, 2020, the St. Cloud City Council approved a suite of new programs designed to provide economic support to any of the more than 1,300 local businesses facing financial hardship due to the outbreak of the Novel Coronavirus 2019 Disease or COVID-19.
The COVID-19 Economic Recovery and Stimulus Plan includes a three-phased approach to assisting businesses including post-recovery efforts. The package of initiatives includes grant programs for small businesses and nonprofits, fee waivers for city services, and a variety of resources providing technical support and marketplace information. In all, the plan offers $1.25 million of local support, with the opportunity to grow to more than $2 million if additional philanthropic, state, and federal resources are included. The plan proposes to support the more than 1,300 registered small and midsize businesses in St. Cloud and complements recently announced state and federal economic recovery initiatives.
“We believe this is an opportunity to do more than just talk about our support of our local business community and actually give support by providing this desperately needed assistance,” said Mayor Blackwell. “This certainly won’t solve all issues, but these small businesses are integral to our local economy and it’s important they be given a helping hand in these unprecedented times.”
Phase I is the execution of two grant programs: COVID-19 Nonprofit Grant Assistance Program and COVID-19 Small Business Grant Program. The City Council approved the use of $250,000 from the St. Cloud/OUC Economic Development and Business Retention Fund. Phase II of the stimulus plan will include targeted fee waivers and extensions on core municipal services. Phase III, also funded for $250,000 from the St. Cloud/OUC Business Retention Fund, is devoted to post-recovery economic efforts and additional funding assistance for local business.
“Using money from the OUC fund to help with Economic Development Recovery is exactly what the OUC Business Retention Fund was designed to do.” said City Manager Bill Sturgeon.
The City’s focus is on local businesses that have been hit hardest by COVID-19: local small businesses, mid-size businesses that have had to close or drastically reconfigure operations, and new businesses that were just getting on their feet before the crisis hit. While the funding will not cover all business expenses, it will help supplement funding from federal, state and other philanthropic entities and provide assistance as quickly as possible.
Plan Specifics Include:
COVID-19 Nonprofit Grant Assistance Program
Assist non-profits in their intent to offer residents the ability to attain, restore or preserve their highest potential of functional abilities, independence, and quality of life in the least restrictive setting and to achieve their highest potential by improving their abilities to make safe, responsible decisions and reduce safety risks. This program is designed to assist non-profits lessen the financial burden of operational costs. This grant program will allocate $50,000 in public funding to offset the loss of income related to revenue and other economic impacts for nonprofits aiding in the assistance of services directly related to COVID-19. Each non-profit is eligible for up to $5,000.
To qualify, nonprofits must be located in the geographic boundary of St. Cloud or serve 51% of St. Cloud population, services must benefit residents of St. Cloud, must be a community need directly impacted by the spread of COVID-19, and produce realistic outcomes. Other criteria may apply.
COVID-19 Small Business Grant Program
Assist business owners seeking to offset operational costs due to the financial impact associated with COVID-19. The City of St. Cloud would like to help promote business continuity and longevity by offering financial assistance in working capital including but not limited to payroll, rent, supplies, equipment, transit/delivery, etc. This grant program will allocate $200,000 in public funding with each business eligible for up to $10,000 in assistance.
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.