Becker County has given out just short of $858,000 so far in recent COVID-19 relief grants to businesses, and it has used up its most recent state grant and then some.
The effort includes lots of $2,000 grants to bars, restaurants, hair salons, fitness centers, retailers and entertainment venues that had to shut down or were otherwise impacted by COVID-19 restrictions.
And there were lots of $1,000 grants to childcare providers, as well as bigger chunks of money provided (an average award of $16,735) to 18 businesses hurt by the pandemic (for a total of just over $301,000).
The county also provided block grants that averaged about $10,000 to 30 businesses hurt by the pandemic (for a total block grant outlay of $305,500.)
Here’s a closer look: The county provided $1,000 grants to 69 qualifying daycare providers (for a total of $69,000.)
Many of the $2,000 grants went to 64 businesses that had been directed to shut down (at a total cost of $128,000.)
Other $2,000 grants went to 27 businesses impacted by COVID-19 restrictions (at a total cost of $54,000.)
Overall, about $682,000 of the money used for those local business grants came from the state. Another $102,000 came from Becker County funds, approved by the County Board prior to the state providing the $682,000.
The remaining $74,000 also comes from county funds, provided to meet the needs of qualifying businesses after the state funds were committed.
Scroll down on the document below to see how much individual businesses received in the latest round of grants from Becker County:
It would actually cost another $210,000 to fully fund qualifying losses by the local hospitality industry, Becker County Commissioner Barry Nelson said at the county board meeting Tuesday. He pushed for the county to provide as much of that money as possible, noting that local hotels have taken a financial beating during the pandemic.
Before he supports any additional county funding, Commissioner Ben Grimsley said he needs to know if those businesses have taken advantage of a federal, COVID-related, low-interest loan refinancing program. “It was a tool that was available, and I’d like to know if people took advantage of it, for my vote,” he said.
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Hotels are an important part of the county’s tourism economy, Nelson said, and he would like to support them using county funds, if necessary, whether they refinanced loans or not, he said.
Commissioner Larry Knutson said he would like to wait and see if more federal funds become available before committing county funds.
Commissioner Richard Vareberg said he is flexible on the issue. “I definitely still want to look at it, if there are people still hurting out there,” he said.
Commissioners agreed that county money committed to COVID-19 business relief grants (including the $74,000 committed at this point) will be offset by any future federal COVID funding.