By Victoria Clooney
House Session Daily
The House began its special session work by passing HF5 on a 129-5 vote. In part, the bill would provide $62.5 million for emergency small-business grants and loans – $60 million from a federal coronavirus relief bill and $2.5 million from the Department of Employment and Economic Development’s Emergency Loan Program.
“It is very important that we deliver this aid … as soon as we possibly can,” said Rep. Zack Stephenson (DFL-Coon Rapids), the bill sponsor. “When you own a small business, it’s not just your livelihood, it’s your identity”
The bill would make grants of up to $10,000 available to small businesses that experienced financial hardship as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, could not operate at 51 percent of normal capacity, or more, as of May 18, and meet other requirements.
The grants would be evenly split between the metro area and Greater Minnesota and ultimately determined by a lottery, to be conducted by a third party. There would be specific, minimum carve-outs, including:
- $18 million for microbusinesses with six or fewer full-time employees;
- $10 million for minority-owned businesses;
- $2.5 million for women-owned businesses;
- $2.5 million for veteran-owned businesses; and
- $2.5 for cultural markets, in part to cover rent-forgiveness for existing tenants.
“This will not be enough,” said Rep. Kristin Robbins (R-Maple Grove). “But I’m thrilled that we can get some amount ... out there.”
Robbins commended small businesses across the state for making financial investments and coming up with creative solutions so they can serve their customers safely, including changing their floor plans to allow for social distancing and properly training their staff to take increased safety and hygiene measures.
An earlier version of the bill was considered during regular session https://www.house.leg.state.mn.us/SessionDaily/Story/15252 and further discussed in the interim.