Becker County may help businesses hurt by latest COVID-19 restrictions
With some businesses hurting from the latest COVID-19-related restrictions, the Becker County Board on Tuesday discussed whether to extend its business-relief program to cover the past three months.
The county’s program, funded with federal CARES Act dollars, originally covered March, April, May, and was then extended to June, July and August.
The question now is whether to extend it to cover qualifying business losses in September, October, and November.
Commissioner Larry Knutson pushed hardest for a new relief package, saying he has received several emails from worried business owners (mostly bars and restaurants) seeking county help.
Commissioners who were most involved in designing the county’s CARES Act business relief fund, notably Ben Grimsley and Barry Nelson, were concerned about the difficulty of developing a new program quickly, and suggested the board consider extending the existing program. Knutson said that would be fine with him.
Complicating the issue is that the federal CARES Act money had to be dispersed by counties by Dec. 1, or returned to the state. The county has used all its federal funding. So it’s not clear where funding would come from for a new county business relief program.
Both the state and the federal governments are also working on COVID-19 relief programs and funding packages, but it’s not clear how soon that will happen or how much money will be available. Knutson said local business owners need help now.
In the end, commissioners agreed to review an extended business relief program for businesses that have been shut down by the governor’s latest order. “The Finance Committee will review it, and the Board will consider it at its next meeting,” Nelson said.