Struggling Monticello businesses experiencing financial challenges brought on by the coronavirus’ shutdown of essential businesses could soon be getting a helping hand.

Monticello’s Economic Development Authority (EDA) is positioning itself to implement an emergency financial assistance program which could put as much as $5,000 in the checkbooks of struggling businesses.

The financial aid could come as soon as Wednesday, May 27 when the EDA holds its second May meeting. The matter was on the May 13 agenda, but was tabled so EDA members could assess the needs of city businesses after Gov. Tim Walz’ order allowing many retailers to reopen storefronts earlier this week, on Monday, May 18.

The financial assistance monies would come from the City’s Greater Minnesota Enterprise Fund, according to Jim Thares, economic development manager for the City of Monticello.

The fund has about $1.03 million in it. With about $880,000 in potential economic development commitments earmarked to come from the fund, the EDA could comfortably contribute $100,000 to the financial assistance program, Thares told EDA members at the organization’s Wednesday, May 13 meeting. City staff has noted that an additional $50,000 could be made available in a second phase of the program.

But instead of making assistance program funds available after the May 13 meeting, the EDA recommended waiting two weeks, until May 27, to see how state and federal funding mechanisms were playing out.

EDA members joined city council members, city staff, and chamber of commerce representatives in a round table call with Monticello business owners and managers. During that two-day discussion, many business representatives stated they were facing financial struggles due to the challenges presented by dealing with COVID-19.

That’s where the idea was born of assisting local businesses with 50 or less employees.

Under the EDA’s assistance program proposal, businesses eligible for the $5,000 grants would be restaurants, cafes, coffee houses, and other places offering food or beverages; taverns, brewpubs, microbreweries, distilleries, wineries, tasting rooms, and other places offering the on-premise consumption of alcohol; gyms, fitness centers, indoor sports facilities, indoor exercise facilities, businesses offering massage therapy, spas, salons, nail salons, cosmetology salons, and barbershops; bowling alleys, theaters, skating rinks; boutiques and specialty retailers; and other businesses deemed non-essential.

Eligible businesses would need to have between two and 50 employees and have $1 million or less in gross revenue.  

Reach Jeff Hage at


Jeff Hage is the managing editor of the Monticello Times. He majored in journalism at the University of Wisconsin- Eau Claire.

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