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Small Business Relief Fund

Small Business Relief Fund

Local funding opportunities to support businesses impacted by COVID-19

Emergency funding available for restaurants, bars, gyms, entertainment/event venues

The rapidly increasing number of COVID-19 cases throughout the state of Minnesota requires new public health measures to reduce the spread of the virus, including restrictions on restaurants, bars, and other food service establishments, as well as a four week closure of gyms, fitness and other indoor recreation, event, and entertainment venues.

Relevant orders include:

To reduce the economic impacts of these restrictions, the Hennepin County Board of Commissioners allocated $8 million in CARES Act funds on Tuesday, November 17, to support restaurants, bars, and food service establishments.  

In addition, approximately $5 million in CARES Act funds remaining from prior Small Business Relief rounds is available to support gymnasiums, fitness facilities, and other indoor recreation, event, and entertainment venues.

Grant amounts:

  • Businesses who have not previously received Hennepin County Small Business Relief funds can apply for grants of $15,000.
  • Businesses who have previously received Hennepin County Small Business Relief funds can apply for additional grants of $10,000.

Program guidelines may be subject to change prior to the deadline. Please review this page prior to submitting an application.

Application

Click here to apply 

All applications must be submitted by Tuesday, December 1 at noon.

A randomized numbering system (i.e., lottery) will be used to select grant recipients if applications exceed available resources. 

Frequently asked questions 

Updated November 24, 2020: Click to view frequently asked questions (PDF)

Translated program guidelines

Eligible expenses

Eligible Hennepin County businesses may apply for funds to cover costs including:

  • Commercial rent/mortgage payments
  • Utilities and other non-payroll operating expenses
  • Supplier payments
  • Personal protective equipment
  • Costs to comply with public health guidance (https://staysafe.mn.gov)
  • Other COVID-19 related expenditures  

Eligible businesses

Bars and restaurants

Locally-owned for-profit restaurants, bars, and food service establishments with 100 employees or fewer and under $6 million in annual revenue.

  • Specific eligible restaurant businesses include: Full- and limited-service restaurants, cafes, cafeterias, and buffets; caterers; beverage bars; doughnut shops, bagel shops, and cookie shops with on-premises baking; coffee shops; ice-cream parlors  
  • Specific eligible bar businesses include: Bars, taverns, nightclubs, tap rooms, distilleries, cideries, and craft wineries offering food or beverages for on-premises consumption.

Fitness, entertainment, and event venues

Locally-owned for-profit gymnasiums, fitness facilities, and other indoor recreation, event, and entertainment venues with 50 employees or fewer.

  • Specific eligible fitness, event, and entertainment venues include: Gymnasiums, fitness facilities; indoor recreation, sports, climbing facilities; trampoline parks; martial arts, dance and exercise studios; events and entertainment venues such as theaters, cinemas, concert and performance venues, arcades, bowling alleys.

Ineligible businesses include:

  • Home-based businesses; food trucks; those without a permanent physical establishment; outdoor facilities and venues
  • Non-profit organizations, civic institutions, facilities owned by government entities
  • Corporate chains, multi-state chains
  • Businesses in default conditions prior to February 29, 2020
  • Businesses that derive any income from adult entertainment

Additional eligibility criteria

To be eligible, a business must: 

  • Have a fixed, permanent commercial (non-home-based) establishment in Hennepin County
  • Must be active in good standing with the Minnesota Secretary of State
  • Meet employee and revenue maximums noted above
  • Have a COVID-19 Preparedness Plan in effect, and staff dedicated to its implementation.
  • Be current on property taxes, if applicable

NOTE: Business owners with multiple locations may seek funding for each location, up to a maximum of three additional awards from this application round. 

Common questions when completing the online form

  • The submit button is not working: If the submit button is not turning blue, please make sure all information is filled out on the previous pages. A common error is on the “Acknowledge and Sign” section. Please make sure all three certification boxes are checked. Once all of the required information is provided you will be able to submit the application. You will receive a confirmation email from Hennepin County acknowledging your submission.
  • I cannot check all three boxes because I am subject to backup withholdings: Please contact economic.development@hennepin.us for more information. 
  • I pressed the submit button but did not receive a confirmation from Hennepin County: If you do not receive a confirmation, first check your spam or junk mail. If you don’t see it there, we did not receive your submission. Please revisit the form or fill out a new form. All information must be filled out correctly on all the pages.
  • How do I know you received my application? You will receive a confirmation email from Hennepin County acknowledging your submission.
  • I cannot sign the form: To sign the form, place your cursor in the signature box. A pop will appear. Using the paintbrush tool or your mouse, sign your name in the box, then click on the green check mark. Click to view video tutorial.
  • I have an EIN number but file my taxes with my social security number because I file under my own name: We prefer that you use your EIN. If you have an EIN but file your business taxes with your SSN, please fill out the form using your SSN. If you have an EIN and you are a sole proprietor, please select “other” and fill out sole proprietor in the box.
  • I inserted a link, but nothing is happening in the form to move forward. Hit the tab button on your keyboard or click your cursor outside of the box.
  • I received an error stating that my file is too big. You will need to reduce the file size of the first page of your return to 2 MB. If your file is a PDF, please take a photo of the first page. Open the image in the photo application of your computer and select “resize”. Select the option to resize to a medium image size.
  • I received an error message about a duplicate email submission. This is typically an issue that is related to types of attachments you are uploading. Please make sure your attachments are in PDF or JPG format. Attachment names must include no special characters an no spaces. 

Bad example: Bob&John / Michael’s bookstore.doc

Good example: BobAndJohn_Michaels_bookstore.pdf


Also check to make sure that there are no spaces in front or behind the email address.

Translations

Translated information and materials will be posted to this webpage as soon as possible, including in Spanish, Somali, Oromo, and Hmong.

Hennepin County offers free interpreter services upon request. Please call 612-348-9812 / economic.development@hennepin.us.

Para asistencia 612-348-9812 / economic.development@hennepin.us / Yog xav tau kev pab, 612-348-9812 / economic.development@hennepin.us / Hadii aad Caawimaad u baahantahay 612-348-9812 / economic.development@hennepin.us

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Prior rounds of Hennepin County Small Business Relief funding 

Hennepin County has committed over $30 million in federal CARES Act funding to provide direct financial support to small businesses in the form of grants. Three application rounds for emergency small business relief grants have been offered:

  • Round 3 July 30-August 12: Grants up to $15,000 for businesses with 1-50 employees
    Application guidelines 
  • Waitlist application period October 29- November 6

At this time, there is sufficient funding for all eligible small businesses that previously submitted an application. Thousands of applications have been received, and the review process is ongoing. Grants that have been approved are being disbursed to applicants daily. Information on the funds provided to small businesses to-date is available here

Partner organizations reviewing and approving applications

If you have been approved for funding through the Small Business Relief Fund or the Self- Employed Entrepreneur Fund, a representative from one of the organizations listed below are working with applicants to make the grant review process as smooth and efficient as possible.

  • African Development Center (ADC)
  • African Economic Development Solutions
  • Black Women’s Wealth Alliance 
  • Latino Economic Development Center (LEDC)
  • Metropolitan Consortium of Community Developers (MCCD)
  • Metropolitan Economic Development Association (MEDA)
  • Neighborhood Development Center (NDC)
  • NEON
  • NextStage
  • WomenVenture

Please contact Mary Matze at mary.matze@hennepin.us with any questions about the partner organizations.  

Connecting to resources

To learn more about other resources and initiatives in Hennepin County, please visit the Hennepin County’s Resources for small businesses impacted by COVID-19 page.