There are a ton of unknowns related to the coronavirus outbreak, but one thing we do know is our local businesses are suffering big time and many of them can’t wait for help.
With that in mind, I urge Minnesota small-business owners who are facing economic hardship during the COVID-19 outbreak to seek relief through the U.S. Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Disaster Loan Assistance Program. Minnesota is among states where the federal SBA’s low-interest loans are available to cover small-business operating expenses after a disaster declaration was issued.
The SBA program is just one resource many businesses can turn to if they’re looking for more immediate relief as they await further action at the state and federal levels.
The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) indicates this program can provide low-interest loans of up to $2 million to small businesses and private non-profits. These loans can go toward working capital to meet needs including payroll, accounts payable, and fixed debt payments that can’t be paid due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Long-term repayment options of up to a maximum of 30 years are available at 3.75% interest, and at 2.75% interest for non-profits. Businesses can defer payments for the first four months and it is recommended owners apply online at sba.gov/funding-programs/disaster-assistance.
Loans can be directly dispersed within three weeks. Businesses will need to gather their tax statements from last year, in addition to providing financial information to show current and expected business losses.
Questions can be directed to the SBA Hotline at 1-800-659-2955. More information from Minnesota’s DEED can be found at https://mn.gov/deed/.
And now the governor has issued an executive order creating a Small Business Emergency Loan Program by making available $30 million from special revenue funds. These dollars will be used by DEED’s lender network to make loans of between $2,500 and $35,000 for qualifying small businesses. The loans will be 50% forgivable, and offered at a 0% interest rate. If other financing becomes available to small businesses that received an emergency loan, such as federal funding, the emergency loan must be repaid. These emergency loans will be made by an existing network of lenders DEED works with across the state. Depending on the size of the loans offered to businesses, DEED estimates this emergency loan program will provide needed resources to between 1,200 and 5,000 businesses. DEED expects loan applications will available later this week through our lender network. Minnesota small businesses should send questions about this emergency loan program to ELP@state.mn.us.
Protective equipment drive
Hospitals across the nation and here in Minnesota are running out of important personal protective equipment (PPE), such as masks and gowns, that help keep them safe while diagnosing and treating patients.
Due to this nationwide shortage, the Minnesota Nurses Association, local hospitals, and others are calling for donations of factory-made N95 ear loop masks or for volunteers to create CDC-approved, reusable face masks. Instructions on how to make hand sewn masks can be found on their website.
Masks can be safely donated from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m. through April 5 and can be dropped off at the following locations:
Please be sure to remain in your car when you arrive to donate. A staff member will come to you to accept your donation.
This is a great way to support our healthcare professionals as they treat and diagnose Minnesotans. Please be sure to thank a doctor or nurse today!
Red Cross needs your help
The Red Cross faces a severe shortage because nearly 2,700 Red Cross blood drives have been canceled in response to the coronavirus outbreak. Blood drives account for more than 80 percent of blood that the Red Cross collects, so if you are healthy and eligible to donate, please visit www.RedCrossBlood.org, or use the Red Cross Blood Donor app to schedule an appointment.
Look for more news as things develop. The governor has issued a steady stream of executive orders but, at least as of now, no shelter-in-place order has been issued. The Legislature could meet in St. Paul later this week to pass some bills to assist in efforts to combat COVID-19, including legislation I have been working closely with on long-term care.
I may have more on that in an upcoming email. Until next time, be safe and stay healthy.