Coon Rapids businesses will soon be able to apply for grant relief from the city for coronavirus-related losses.

Using funds the city received from the federal coronavirus relief bill, businesses with under 20 employees will be able to get up to $15,000. Businesses with 20-100 employees are eligible for up to $30,000.

The council authorized $1.6 million for an initial round of grants. Staff may ask the council for more funds if needed to meet all requests for aid.

An earlier proposed version of the program included language about a lottery for receiving aid, but that was removed. Economic Development Coordinator Matt Brown said he hopes the city will be able to fund all the requests using the $1.6 million allocated to the program.

The money allocated is about a third of what the city received through the relief bill. The goal was to strike a balance between assuring businesses that the city is investing in the program and reserving enough money to cover other costs and programs, according to city staff.

To be eligible, a business must be majority-owned by a permanent resident of Minnesota and have a physical location in Coon Rapids.

“In general businesses will simply have to demonstrate a financial hardship, and we want to provide a lot of flexibility with respect to what constitutes a hardship,” Brown said. “So that could be a loss in revenue year-over-year, it could also be simply just a verification that a business was affected by the shutdown orders that occurred earlier this spring.”

Ineligible businesses include home-based businesses, real estate or property management, adult entertainment and multistate chains — unless they are locally-owned franchises.

City staff acknowledged that home-based businesses also likely experienced losses during the pandemic, but their operating costs tend to be lower, according to council documents.

Council Member Jennifer Geisler pointed out that while the grant could not cover payroll already covered by the Paycheck Protection Program, it can cover payroll costs that continue after PPP funding has expired.

“I think the program is phenomenal,” Geisler said. “I think it will really help our businesses, and that is the whole intent.”

Applications for the program should become available on the city’s website for a 10-day window in late August. Eligible applicants will be asked to submit financial information for review.

Grants are slated to be awarded by early fall.

connor.cummiskey@apgecm.com

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