Goodhue County engaged CEDA to create and implement a small business and nonprofit relief grant program utilizing funds the county received through the CARES (Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security) Act legislation. Businesses (including farms, assisted care, hospitals, and clinics) and nonprofits (including churches) that experienced business interruption due to the COVID-19 pandemic were eligible to apply for up to $10,000. CEDA was asked to manage, review, and award these grants. During the 12 week application window, 292 applications were received and of those applicants, 231 grants totaling $2,217,620 were deemed eligible for funding! Businesses and nonprofits from Bellechester, Cannon Falls, Dennison, Goodhue, Kenyon, Lake City, Pine Island, Red Wing, Wanamingo, Welch, and Zumbrota were among the communities that received funding.
The goal of the small business relief fund grant was to provide local businesses and nonprofits with federal CARES Act funds for emergency financial assistance needed due to the pandemic. These funds are meant to help businesses pay for critical business operating expenses and take measures to keep their employees and customers safe as they reopen. Laura Qualey, CEDA Community and Business Development Specialist stated, “It was amazing to be part of a team to help facilitate these funds for Goodhue County. I live in Cannon Falls, so it became a personal mission to get out there and promote the grant program to not only Cannon Falls businesses, but our other surrounding communities in Goodhue County.”
CEDA marketed the program via press releases to local media, created a program handout, distributed program information to each local city and Chamber of Commerce within the county, purchased advertising through Facebook, conducted other free social media advertising, went door to door to businesses, and hosted several virtual seminars to discuss the program.
The program opened on August 7, 2020 and initially closed on October 31, 2020. 220 applications were awarded in the initial period, then the county board allocated an additional $100,000 to the program and additional 11 applications were funded. CEDA reviewed each application, collected and reviewed supporting documentation, and helped walk applicants through any questions.