CARES Act business grant guidelines pass committee, move to Crookston City Council

Jess Bengtson
jbengtson@crookstontimes.com

    The City of Crookston Development Policy & Review Committee moved forward Tuesday with guidelines for CARES (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security) Act small business grants and the City Council will make the final decision at their August 24 meeting before applications are created for Crookston businesses to apply. There will be approximately $450,000 available from the city, who received $600,000 from the CARES Act, and potentially another $250,000 offered for Crookston businesses later by Polk County.

    The grants have to be dispersed by mid-November and the committee wanted to get the ball rolling so they would set a September 18 deadline for applications if the Council approves. Applications could be ready as early as August 28 and would be available on the city’s website, through local media (Crookston Times and KROX) and shared on social media.

    Mayor Dale Stainbrook said later in the conversation if there was a “boat load” of funds to distribute right away to local businesses that perhaps the city could call a special Council meeting to get the recipients their money faster.

    At Tuesday’s policy meeting, some of the application requirements discussed would be that the business needs to be within Crookston city limits, is currently operating, is in good standing with the Minnesota Secretary of State, can provide a P&L (profit and loss) statement for both this year and last year, 2020 and 2019, for the months provided on the application (which could be March through June), if the business has received a PPP loan during the pandemic, and if the business owner received unemployment compensation, plus documentation to back all of the required guidelines on the application.

    The committee talked about setting a maximum amount for what a business could receive as well as different tiers based on eligibility, such as if the business was mandated by the state to shut down for any period of time during the pandemic, and what their loss amounts look like. Committee member Jake Fee, also a City Council member, suggested Tier 1 have a higher amount for those who had to shut down and Tier 2 for more COVID-19 expense-related items. He brought up grocery stores that didn’t have to close their doors and potentially made a larger profit than last year, and how he thought they wouldn’t be eligible for the higher tier.

    “I don’t think this should be considered free money; this is to help a business survive,” Fee explained. “We’re not Santa Claus handing out money.”

    Fee added that he wants every dollar to go to local businesses that apply and would hate to turn anyone down, but believed in a firm deadline for applications and thought the committee should wait to set a cap until applications have been turned in. The committee did discuss setting a cap of up to $30,000 for Tier 1 and up to $15,000 for Tier 2.