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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Jeff Brand (DFL)

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Rep. Brand votes for Small Business Grants, calls for public safety reforms and additional economic relief

Friday, June 12, 2020

St. Paul, MN - Today, during the first day of the recently called special session, the Minnesota House approved $62.5 million in grants for small businesses impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. State Representative Jeff Brand (DFL - St. Peter) who voted in favor of the legislation, also called for public safety reforms and additional economic relief during the June special session. 

“With the COVID-19 pandemic continuing to impact Minnesota, it’s incredibly important that we get back to the work of delivering economic relief to our communities and small businesses that have been hit the hardest in these challenging times,” said Rep. Brand. “We started that process today by approving grants for some of our community’s smallest businesses that have been either closed or operating at a limited capacity for months.

“Any economic relief efforts should also include a Jobs and Local Projects plan, as many shovel-ready proposals would bring the exact type of investment our community and state need. It’s also clear that public safety reforms must be addressed during this special session, such as the reforms introduced by my colleagues in the People of Color and Indigenous (POCI) Caucus. The death of George Floyd remains incredibly fresh in our minds, and the time to build a more just and equitable Minnesota is now.”

The legislation approving grants for small businesses includes $60 million from the federal CARES Act, and $2.5 million from the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development’s Emergency Loan Program. The focus of these funds will be on Minnesota’s smallest businesses, many of which are not as well-connected with private banks, and that were required to operate at 50% capacity or less as of May 18. The funds will be evenly split in their allocation to Greater Minnesota and Metro-area businesses.

Under the bill, small businesses with 50 or fewer employees can receive grants up to $10,000 each. To be eligible, the business must meet the following requirements:

  1. Have a permanent physical location in Minnesota, 
  2. Be owned by a permanent resident of MN, 
  3. Be in good standing with the Sec. of State’s office and the Dept. of Revenue as of March 1, 2020, and 
  4. Demonstrate financial hardship as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In contrast to existing programs designed to help business during the pandemic, grants will be awarded by lottery. The bill language is available here. Video of today’s floor debate is available here