Updated: 9/24/ 2020
During times of uncertainty, our Chamber remains committed to providing your business resources to guide you. The well-being of our community and businesses is a priority. Following are articles, information, and tools you can share with your staff and use for your company. We will continue to update this list as we learn more.
Loans and Funding
St. Louis County Small Business Relief Grants Available
The St. Louis County Board of Commissioners approved $6 million in Small Business COVID Relief Grants which will be distributed in two (2) phases to qualifying businesses adversely impacted by and responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Phase 1 applications are now closed.
Phase 2: Small Business COVID-19 Relief Grants
Phase 2 grant assistance will focus on providing emergency grant assistance of up to $50,000 to businesses and non-profits with 100 or fewer full time employees for COVID-related expenses. Application Period: Now – Monday, September 28 (4:30 pm).
Paycheck Protection Program
Current law dictates that the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) close at the end of August 8, 2020. As such, SBA is no longer accepting PPP applications from participating lenders. Learn more at https://www.sba.gov/funding-programs/loans/coronavirus-relief-options/paycheck-protection-program.
Frequently Asked Questions for Lenders and Borrowers (08/11/2020)
Small Business Administration Disaster Loans
SBA is unable to accept new applications at this time for the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL)-COVID-19 related assistance program (including EIDL Advances) based on available appropriations funding.
Applicants who have already submitted their applications will continue to be processed on a first-come, first-served basis.
Child Care Grants
The Northland Foundation received nearly 300 applications from providers across the region and was able to make 180 grants totaling over $230,000. All available funds have been awarded.
Shared Work Program to Avoid Layoffs
Shared Work is offered by the MN Unemployment Insurance (UI) Program to help employers avoid a layoff. The program allows employers to divide available hours of work among a group of employees instead of implementing a full layoff. These employees may then receive partial unemployment insurance benefits while working reduced hours.
The purpose of Shared Work is to avoid a layoff, not to subsidize wages. Shared Work can help employers avoid the difficulties that can go along with a layoff. If employees keep working during a temporary slowdown, employers can more quickly gear up when business conditions improve.
Learn more about the Shared Work Program on the Unemployment Insurance Division’s website.
The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development is encouraging people who’ve lost work because of the novel coronavirus to apply for unemployment benefits promptly.
DEED’s Unemployment Insurance (UI) program assists workers who can’t work, have their hours reduced or lose their jobs as a result of the pandemic. The UI program is prepared and ready to assist these workers. If you are unemployed or have your hours reduced, you may apply for unemployment benefits by visiting www.uimn.org.
Families First Coronavirus Response Act
The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA or Act) requires certain employers to provide employees with paid sick leave or expanded family and medical leave for specified reasons related to COVID-19. The Department of Labor’s (Department) Wage and Hour Division (WHD) administers and enforces the new law’s paid leave requirements. These provisions will apply from the effective date through December 31, 2020.
Education and Counseling
Financial Support – Where to StartDifferent programs make sense for different businesses. Minnesota DEED has created a Covid 19 summary guide to help small businesses quickly see which programs might be right for their situation.
SBA works with a number of local partners to counsel, mentor, and train small businesses. The SBA has 68 District Offices, as well as support provided by its Resource Partners, such as SCORE offices, Women’s Business Centers, Small Business Development Centers and Veterans Business Outreach Centers. When faced with a business need, use the SBA’s Local Assistance Directory to locate the office nearest you.
Resources in the Twin Ports:
Women’s Business Alliance North
Women’s Business Center
202 W. Superior Street, Suite 311
Duluth, MN 55802
Northeast Minnesota SBDC
Small Business Development Center
11 East Superior Street, Suite 210
Duluth, MN 55802
Northeast Minnesota SBDC consultants are assisting clients throughout the COVID-19 outbreak. Connect with us to continue your projects or to get help with advice and ideas for how to keep your business as healthy as possible during these uncertain times. Contact your SBDC consultant by email or phone, direct your questions to email@example.com or visit www.nesbdc.org to sign up for consulting services. The American SBDC has a webpage with information and resources: https://americassbdc.org/coronavirus-information/
Wisconsin Small Business Development Center ~ UW S
Small Business Development Center
108 Erlanson Hall, 825 N 18th St
Superior, WI 54880
Free Financial Counseling
LSS Financial Counseling (part of Lutheran Social Service of MN) is available to local residents. We offer financial counseling services across the state, nation, and have an office in Duluth. We provide budget counseling, strategies to address debt, housing counseling, student loan repayment counseling and more. Speaking with one of our Certified Financial Counselors is free to everyone.
We all know that news about COVID-19 and its impact is changing all the time. The one thing that remains constant is our program’s commitment to serve area residents with realistic financial guidance and strategies. Appointments are available by telephone and online appointments. Until further notice, face-to-face/in person office appointments in Duluth will not be available for the health and safety of those served, as well as employees. Our Scheduling Team can be reached at 888.577.2227, Monday-Friday from 8am-5pm. Residents may also reach out to us for financial counseling via online service on our website.
Health Insurance Counseling
Are you laid off? You could qualify for low-cost health insurance from the state of Minnesota. Free navigation assistance available! Call to discuss your options. MNsure Navigators help with applications, reporting changes, renewals, and more.
Lake Superior Community Health Center – (218) 722-9650
Community Action Duluth – (218) 726-1665
Generations Health Care Initiatives – (218) 336-5709
Duluth Stormwater Utility Fee Increase Delayed
On Monday, August 17, Chamber President David Ross distributed a letter to the Duluth Public Utilities Commission and the Duluth City Council regarding the proposed plan for increasing stormwater utility rates. Such a delay would allow the business community additional time to recover from COVID-19-related financial hardship before the proposed rate increases.
As a result of the Chamber’s request, the Duluth Public Utilities Commission voted unanimously earlier this week in favor to delay the implementation of a stormwater utilities increase. A compromise was reached on the amount of time for the delay – six months – citing the importance of the rate increase for stormwater utilities, and while still recognizing the financial burden of COVID-19. The new rate will begin July 1, 2021.
Read more here: Duluth News Tribune 8/18/20
Bag Fee Delayed
The Chamber has championed to the Duluth City Council the motion to delay the pending plastic carry out bag fee, planned for implementation by April 1. Last night, city councilors voted on the motion. The vote was unanimous in support of delaying the ordinance until January 1, 2021. This delay alleviates grocers and other retailers whose immediate focus is on this global health and economic emergency.
Chamber Advocates for Child CareCOVID-19 has impacted child care plans for many families and providers. Prior to the pandemic the child care shortage in Duluth was daunting and compromised our ability to attract and retain our workforce needs threatening the future economic stability of our business community. Child care providers are faced with enormous amounts of regulations and run razor thin margins forcing many to close their doors. Now, child care providers are considered essential workforce that are asked to keep their doors open while the rest of the community shelter in place. Their role is critical for providing medical workers children care while they combat the current coronavirus outbreak. These individuals were potentially exposing themselves and their staff to COVID-19 without additional financial assistance from the state or federal government.
The Chamber understands the importance quality child care is for our local families and the stability and support of these unsung heroes is our responsibility. We were proud to advocate alongside City Councilor, Arik Forsman, at the State level for robust emergency funding for these incredibly important essential workers during our current crisis and into the future.
Coronavirus Resources and Helpful Tips
Beware of ScamsWe have received notice that scammers are attempting to gain sensitive information through false associations to available loans. If you have a question about someone contacting you, keep some things in mind:
- Don’t release any private information (especially Social Security numbers, credit card information, or banking information) in response to an unsolicited call, letter, or email.
- Contact the Better Business Bureau (BBB) for more information on a company before you commit to anything.
- Contact your state’s Attorney General’s office.
- Do a reverse search of the phone number on the internet–you’ll often find that several people have listed the number as belonging to scammers. Ask for the number if you don’t have caller ID.Here are some tips that should help.
- Legitimate government entities will have websites and emails that end with .gov such as http://www.sba.gov.
- Search “scam” or “scams” on http://www.sba.gov. You’ll find many of the scams that we already know exist.
- Report scams. Report to the BBB and to the Attorney General. If someone purports to be affiliated with the SBA, contact your SBA office.
- Contact your SBA office if you’re not sure how to apply for small business certification programs or have other questions pertaining to your small business.
What is COVID-19 (coronavirus)?
What Does the State of Emergency Mean?
On March 13, Governor Tim Walz declared a state of emergency for Minnesota. This action activates the Emergency Operations Center to help agencies coordinate from one location and makes it easier to purchase needed medical supplies, protect consumers from price gouging, and increase county health departments’ access to state funds.
Equipping Your Office
Supporting Your Staff
Ensuring Your Business Operations
If you have any questions, concerns, or suggestions, please contact:
Duluth Area Chamber of Commerce