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The Brooklyn Center City Council approved an emergency small business loan program at its May 11 meeting.

The program offers $3,000 forgivable loans with 0% interest and payments deferred for a year to the city’s smallest businesses that may be struggling during the COVID-19 pandemic. The loan program is intended to provide short-term emergency relief to struggling businesses but not be a long-term solution to financial struggles that these businesses might encounter as a result of the pandemic.

Allowable uses for funds include rent or mortgage payments, payroll or employee benefits, accounts payable, and vendor payments. The program was approved with $150,000 in available funding, allowing the program to support up to 50 businesses.

To be eligible for the loans, a business must have a physical address in Brooklyn Center, have been in operation prior to Feb. 20, 2020, employe 10 or fewer part-time or full-time employees prior to March 16, 2020, have an annual gross income of less than $200,000, be able to demonstrate that its revenues have been directly and adversely impacted by the pandemic, serve the general public and be a conforming or a legally non-conforming use under city zoning regulations. A business owner’s immigration status does not impact eligibility for the program.

Not eligible for loans are businesses whose primary source of revenue is business-to-business transactions, or businesses that primarily generate income from gambling activities, adult entertainment, tobacco or vaping-related activities, registered lobbying, multi-level marketing, billboards, renting commercial or residential property, or businesses that have no current or historical financial statements.

Loans can be forgiven if recipients demonstrate that funds were used for eligible expenses and if they meet with an area business resource center to receive technical assistance.

The application period opens May 15, and the program will continue until funds are expended or the council terminates the program, whichever occurs first. Applications are accepted on a rolling, first-come, first-served basis.

Councilmembers April Graves and Marquita Butler both spoke generally in support of the program.

Mayor Mike Elliott said he hopes that the technical assistance aspect of the program also results in some mentorship for business owners.

Councilmember Dan Ryan asked that council members consider contacting state and federal congressional delegation members to speak to the need for increased funding for small business assistance, as the city’s funds could be depleted as the pandemic continues.

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