As the deadline for disbursing federal coronavirus relief funds neared, the Anoka County Board of Commissioners Nov. 24 approved one more round of funding for businesses impacted by Gov. Tim Walz’s most recent shutdown order.
“This was sudden, when the governor declared the latest shutdown that hurt our hospitality industry the hardest, and this is our way of hoping we can get them through the next four weeks and beyond if necessary,” County Board Chair Scott Schulte said.
Following the Nov. 18 shutdown order, the county offered businesses and nonprofits additional relief of up to $30,000 total. The board had previously approved grant limits of up to $10,000 and $20,000 in earlier rounds. Applicants were required to provide proof of additional expenses in order to receive the additional relief.
County staff identified 67 businesses and 16 nonprofits impacted by the shutdown order that could receive additional funding. They expected a 75% response rate that could cost an estimated $787,500, according to county documents. The money comes from previously allocated funds in the COVID-19 relief program that had yet to be spent.
The county had until Nov. 30 to send checks to impacted businesses, according to county documents.
“More funding has got to come from the federal level, and I am hopeful that we will get it,” Commissioner Mandy Meisner said.
Schulte noted that additional money would require action from a lame duck Congress and administration.
“Hopefully the good will of the American people is strong enough to force them to do what they are supposed to be doing, because I agree the CARES Act was truly a savior for not only local government but for the businesses within those local jurisdictions,” Schulte said.
While businesses wait on further action from the government, Council Member Jeff Reinert urged residents to support local businesses.
“I would say to the public, support local restaurants and bars all you can with curbside pickup and things like that to help them out, because they are all suffering,” Reinert said.
Alongside the new grant limits, commissioners approved two more items using federal coronavirus relief funds. One was a license for a system to help manage health facilities. The other was funding for a local nonprofit.
Commissioners approved $98,000 to purchase PrepMod Public Health Enterprise Resource Planing Solution. PrepMod automates public health programming and will help the county manage mass testing sites and vaccination clinics, according to county documents.
The Dwelling Place received $8,250 in COVID-19 relief from the county as part of a safety net program. The money will go toward sanitation and cleaning for residents of The Dwelling Place.