After two rounds of small business grants by the city and a third by the county, there are still dollars remaining from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act funding the county is hoping to allocate before time runs out.

Small businesses and nonprofits in Steele County are getting one last chance to apply for grants of amounts up to $10,000, with applications due Friday. Brad Meier, president of the Owatonna Area Chamber of Commerce and Tourism, said they are hoping to reach the final businesses and organizations in the area that may have been negatively impacted by COVID-19.

“Some people may have hesitated to apply the first time, thinking maybe others needed it more,” Meier said. “But now at this point we are really encouraging people who have experienced any loss between March to today to apply.”

The grant program has expanded to include businesses with up to 100 employees – an increase from the previous 50 employee maximum – and all nonprofits. Previously the nonprofits had to be 501©3 or 501©9. Businesses and organizations can be located in unincorporated or incorporated areas of Steele County and cannot have received funding from one of the previous grant rounds.

“This funding has been a Godsend for some businesses,” Meier said. “I know the ones who have received it already are really appreciative and it has helped them move forward for at least a period of time.”

Meier is urging all businesses and nonprofits who have not yet received one of the grants to apply this week, reminding the area that it’s a “use it or lose it” situation.

“We want to use it locally,” he said. “If we don’t it will go back to the state and we lose that forever.”

Since August, more than $1 million of CARES Act funding has gone towards supporting small businesses in Steele County. Dollars were allocated both on the county and city levels, with each city government being responsible for allocating their own funds to small businesses within city limits.

Reach Reporter Annie Granlund at 507-444-2378 or follow her on Twitter @OPPAnnie. ©Copyright 2020 APG Media of Southern Minnesota.

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