Dear Friends and Neighbors,
As many of you know, the COVID-19 crisis is causing significant problems for small business owners in our communities and around our state. Minnesota has begun to take action on their behalf, and I wanted to share what has been done to support them. Here are the updates from the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED).
U.S. SMALL BUSINESS ADMINISTRATION LOANS AVAILABLE SOON
One way Minnesota businesses may be able to get assistance is through low interest loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). Governor Walz has requested an Economic Injury Disaster Loan declaration, clearing the way for businesses to apply for loans to pay fixed debts, payroll, accounts payable and other bills that can’t be paid because of the disaster’s impact. If you have questions, please call the SBA hotline at 1-800-659-2955.
SALES TAX GRACE PERIOD
Restaurants, bars and other businesses impacted by the temporary closures now have a 30-day grace period in paying sales and use tax, under a grace period announced yesterday by the Minnesota Department of Revenue. This means that affected businesses with a monthly Sales and Use Tax payment due March 20, 2020 will have until April 20 to make that payment. These customers should still file their return by March 20. Penalties or interest will not be assessed during the grace period. Find out more at the Minnesota Department of Revenue website.
WORKPLACE HEALTH AND SAFETY
Many Minnesota businesses have taken extraordinary measures to offer telework, paid leave, and other options to their employees during this time of uncertainty.
Businesses and employers can visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website for help with preparing for and responding to COVID-19.
The U.S. Department of Labor has developed some guidelines for how companies can prepare their workplace for COVID-19.
For information on protecting workers and slowing the spread of COVID-19, refer to guidance from the Minnesota Department of Health, measures include telling sick workers to stay home, offering remote work options and increasing space between workers on the job.
IF YOU NEED TO REDUCE WORKERS' HOURS
Employers experiencing a slowdown in their businesses or services as a result of the coronavirus impact on the economy may apply for the Unemployment Insurance Shared Work Program. This program allows employers to seek an alternative to layoffs - retaining their trained employees by reducing their hours and wages that can be partially offset with UI benefits. Workers of employers who are approved to participate in the Shared Work Program receive the percentage of their weekly UI benefit amount based on the percentage of hours and wages reduced, not to exceed 60 percent. Visit Shared Work Program to learn more about its benefits for employers and employees, and how to apply.
UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE INFORMATION FOR EMPLOYERS
If your workers apply for unemployment benefits, DEED will let you know.
Going forward, I will be sure to provide further updates on the assistance available to our small business owners.
The Minnesota Department of Commerce has developed a website in response to COVID-19, which will be an easy location for industries and consumers to find all of the guidance and news releases that have been sent by the Department addressing various COVID-19 issues.
The website can be found at: https://mn.gov/commerce/consumers/covid-19/
BEWARE OF CON ARTISTS TAKING ADVANTAGE OF COVID-19
In light of the ongoing developments related to the current coronavirus (COVID-19) situation, and its impact on financial markets, the Minnesota Department of Commerce is reminding investors in Minnesota to beware of con artists seeking to capitalize on fear and uncertainty.
To help investors identify common telltale signs of possible investment fraud, the Minnesota Department of Commerce has provided three questions to ask before making a new investment.
First, is the investment being offered with a guaranteed high return with little or no risk? All investments carry risk that you may potentially lose some or all of your money. Anyone who says their investment offer has no risk is lying. No one can guarantee an investment return.
Second, is there a sense of urgency or limited availability surrounding the investment? If the offer is legitimate, it will be there later. If someone offers you a ‘can’t miss’ investment opportunity and puts you on the spot, don’t be afraid to walk away.
Third, is the person offering the investment, and the investment itself, properly licensed or registered? For the same reasons you wouldn’t go to an unlicensed doctor or dentist, you should avoid unregistered investment salespeople and their products.
The Minnesota Department of Commerce encourages investors to contact the agency with any concerns or questions 651-539-1638 and online at email@example.com.
It’s been an extraordinary week for our nation, our state, and our local communities. I want to thank you for keeping in touch with me. Know that we are hearing your concerns and are working around the clock on solutions and policy to not only mitigate the spread of the virus, but to also support all those that are impacted. I want to particularly thank our healthcare workers, our first responders, our teachers, our childcare providers, and all of the workers who are supporting our grocery stores, pharmacies, and transportation of needed supplies. We can’t do this without you.
I wrote this a week ago in my update and I still feel the same today:
I believe that we have the strength of will and grounding of faith to get through this. Our state and communities have a long history of coming together to tackle problems and this situation should be no different. We are also blessed to live in close-knit communities where we know our neighbors and families can rely on each other for help and support. I encourage you to look after the elderly and the most vulnerable in your own neighborhoods and check in on them to make sure they have food and supplies. If you or your neighbors are struggling and unable to access resources, please call my office. I will assist in any way I can!
The days and weeks ahead will be challenging, but let’s not let worry or fear overtake us. Instead, let it propel us to respond with common sense, courage and compassion.
We are all in this together.