WORTHINGTON – Worthington’s Economic Development Authority met this week to discuss a variety of subjects, including an update on the Small Business Assistance Grant Program.
Worthington Deputy Administrator Jason Brisson on Tuesday told the EDA Board there were 189 businesses that applied for the grant, which is funded by federal CARES Act dollars. The total of the applications reached approximately $1 million, leaving more funds that need to be disbursed before the end of the year. Any money that does not get used locally has to be returned to the state of Minnesota, so all local officials are working to assure every dollar gets used in their area.
Brisson will have a full report for the EDA board by October 1. Decisions will then have to be made, which could involve upping the payout each business receives, opening a short-termed second round, or putting together a program for home-based businesses.
The City of Worthington hired Jorge Lopez to visit local businesses and make sure they were aware of the program. Lopez said some of the businesses were appreciative of the offer but didn’t apply because they thought there were others who needed the funding more than they did. Others, he said, were moved to tears at the opportunity to access funding that could save their company or business.
Brisson said there are approximately 550 businesses in Nobles County, and the fact that less than two-fifths of them applied could be a positive indicator that they are weathering the COVID-19 storm better than believed.
In the criteria to apply for the grant, a business had to be show they had suffered at least a 10 percent decline in revenue compared to this time last year, or had their business capacity cut to 50 percent or less by executive order.
Nobles County met earlier Tuesday and also discussed the subject. They are waiting for final figured from the city, who administered the program, but also mentioned a second round of grants, re-opening the application process or creating a program for non-profits.