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Waseca County will begin administering a new COVID-19 relief grant program for businesses. (Photo courtesy of the Waseca Art Center)

Waseca County businesses that have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic can begin applying for new state funding.

Waseca County received $359,051 from the Legislature’s business relief package passed in December. The county will provide one-time grants of up to $5,000 in the Emergency Business Relief Grant program and businesses that have been directly or indirectly impacted by Gov. Tim Walz’s Nov. 18 executive order will be prioritized.

The Waseca County Board authorized the grants to be awarded weekly rather than waiting for the county board’s approval every two weeks during its Jan. 5 meeting. Several county commissioners will sit on the committee reviewing the applications to provide oversight in lieu of county board approval. The Waseca Area Chamber of Commerce will administer the program.

The application can be found on Waseca County’s website, co.waseca.mn.us, and the Waseca Area Chamber of Commerce’s website, wasecachamber.com.

Eligible businesses for the grants include restaurants, bars, fitness centers, recreation centers, museums and other businesses that were directed to close on Nov. 18, according to the county.

Businesses which were directly impacted or indirectly impacted, such as primarily deriving their income from sales of goods and services to businesses that were directed to close, will be given first priority for the grants. Businesses that didn’t receive grant relief from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, such as the Paycheck Protection Program, will also receive priority for Waseca County’s grants.

If other funds remain, all other applicants will be reviewed for eligibility based on the economic impact from the pandemic. Businesses could also be eligible for additional relief in excess of $5,000 in a second round of funding, according to the county.

The state was hesitant to include nonprofit organizations in this round of funding, County Administrator Michael Johnson said. A nonprofit could qualify for the funding if it has a social services element to it and functions like a business, he said.

The application will require business owners to sign an agreement certifying that the business was financially impacted by Executive Order 20-99, that grant funds will be used to cover costs incurred during the pandemic and the business is specifically listed within Executive Order 20-99.

The application will remain open until funds are depleted and the grants will be awarded as soon as the application has been validated. Final grant decisions will be made by the Application Review Panel in consultation with Johnson.

Anyone with questions can contact Johnson at michael.johnson@co.waseca.mn.us or 507-835-0631 or Ann Fitch, executive director at the Chamber, at ann@wasecachamber.com or 507-835-3260.

Reach Associate Editor Lisa Kaczke at 507-444-2371. ©Copyright 2020 APG Media of Southern Minnesota. All rights reserved.

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