Itasca Economic Development Corporation (IEDC), in partnership with Itasca County, is pleased to announce Itasca Business Relief Grant Program (IBR), a new round of financing via direct grants to business owners in Itasca County who have faced financial hardship as a result of COVID-19. Financing for the IBR comes from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

“The CARES Act funding comes at a critical time for many Itasca County businesses,” explained Tamara Lowney, IEDC President. “The past several months have been difficult, and our business community is working incredibly hard to stay afloat. IBR grant financing will provide a much-needed bridge for local business owners.”

IBR Grant applications and guidelines will be available for business owners to review on Aug. 17, 2020, and must be submitted between Aug. 25-27, 2020. Itasca County business owners in need due to a financial impact from COVID-19 are encouraged to apply online through the IEDC website, www.itascadv.org.

During the application period Aug. 25-27, IEDC staff will be available to aid business owners who need help submitting the online application. Please call the IEDC office at 218-326-9411 or walk in for assistance.

The program consists of two grant pools available for distribution. The first will be $1.5 million available for eligible businesses, and the remaining $300,000 will be a special fund designated for loggers or logging businesses. Both programs are under development, and further details will be available Aug. 17, 2020.

Business Eligibility Criteria:

• Business must reside in Itasca County

• Must be current on financial obligations as of March 1, 2020

• Must affirm intent to remain open or to reopen in Itasca County

• Demonstrate a need for financial support due to an impact from the COVID-19 Pandemic

• If applicant owns multiple businesses, one application may be submitted per business

• Franchises not locally owned are not eligible

• Only complete applications will be considered

The following businesses would not be eligible:

• A non-profit organization;

• A business manufacturing, distributing, selling or conducting related activities of sexually explicit materials;

• A business that derives income from passive investments without operational ties to operating businesses;

• A business whose activities are primarily focused on speculative activities that develop profits from fluctuations in price rather than through the normal course of trade;

➢ Example: investment properties

• A business that earns more than half of its annual net revenue from lending activities;

➢ Examples: banks, investors, financial advisors, etc.

• A business engaged in multilevel marketing, where a participant's primary incentive is based on the sales made by an ever-increasing number of participants;

➢ Examples: cosmetic, activewear, candles/oils, nutritional products, etc.

• A business engaged in activities that are prohibited by federal law or applicable law in the jurisdiction where the business is located or conducted; and

• A business engaged in gambling enterprises, unless the business earns less than 50% of its annual net revenue from lottery sales

Itasca County Commissioners, understood the extreme need to support our local businesses as quickly as possible, and they took rapid action at this week’s Board meeting to create this grant program. IEDC will be facilitating the program for the county.

“We know the Itasca County business community is feeling the strain of the prolonged pandemic. IBR grants will help cover unexpected expenses or revenue loss,” said Brett Skyles, Itasca County Administrator. “There will be bumps in the road ahead, but we will persevere together.”

Itasca County recently received $5.4 million from the federal CARES Act, and the Itasca County Board of Commissioners knows there has been a significant impact on our community and has elected to use over $1.8 million to support local businesses. The remaining funding will be used to support technology, healthcare and other expenses made necessary by COVID-19. The CARES Act provides fast and direct economic assistance for American workers and families, small businesses, and preserves jobs for American industries.

Every city and township in Itasca County is eligible to receive CARES Act funding, and should apply for their allocation of the federal Coronavirus Relief Fund. Every community will have eligible COVID related expenses and should take advantage of this opportunity.

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