Joint meeting held to discuss Worthington/Nobles Small Business Assistance Grant

WORTHINGTON – During a joint meeting between the Worthington City Council and the Nobles County Commissioners, the planning and implementation of the Worthington Small Business Assistance Grant Program that will be funded with CARES Act money was defined by city and county administrators.

The grants meant to help small businesses with COVID-19 revenue loss will be disbursed to applicants in an equitable way, Worthington City Administrator Steve Robinson explained, with no lottery or first come first served basis. The city has allocated $700,000 to the program and is hoping the county will allocate twice that.

Assistant Administrator Jason Brisson laid out the basics of the program, which include a 3-tier system based on the amount of FTEs a business has.

The business must show a 10 percent loss year-over-year between March 1 and May 31 or have been restricted from operating at over 50 percent capacity by executive orders related to the pandemic.

Once all applications are in, the exact amount of funding per tier will be calculated. Currently it is estimated at up to $5,000 in grant funding for businesses with 0-5 FTE, $7,500 for 6-24 FTE and up to $10,000 for 25-50 FTE.

The program excludes both non-profits and home-based businesses. Several officials had comments regarding home-based portion of the plan, stating people who have a heating and cooling business in a machine shop on their property should not be excluded, but those who have home party businesses should.

Brisson said there is a statute that defines what a home business is, which he will lean on to differentiate.

The program the city and county are using is modeled after a DEED plan.

Townships and the smaller cities can implement the model being used by Worthington and Nobles County, handle the funds their own way or put their portion of the funding into the city and county pool for disbursal.

Townships that don’t want to apply for the funding for fear they won’t have a use for it can turn the money over to the county. Whatever funds are not used by the deadline will be returned to the state.

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