Duluth Economic Development Authority lends hand to local businesses reeling from impact of COVID-19

The authority approved a $568K aid project.


Local businesses hurt by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic likely will be offered some additional resources for financial relief, thanks to the actions of the Duluth Economic Development Authority Wednesday night.

By a 6-0 vote, DEDA commissioners passed a pair of resolutions that could send $568,000 to the Entrepreneur Fund, an organization that seeks to support and assist local businesses. Of that sum, $443,000 has been earmarked for the Duluth Small Business Emergency Fund, providing 5-year loans of between $2,000 and $20,000 at a rate of 0.5% interest, with up to a quarter of the original loan eligible to be forgiven.

An additional $125,000 will go into another more-conventional Entrepreneur Fund Emergency Loan Program, where it will be used to leverage at least another $1 million in financing for struggling local businesses.

Both DEDA contributions still will need to be approved by the Duluth City Council before they can proceed.

Additionally, DEDA Director Chris Fleege laid out plans to provide $30,000 to support the Northland Foundation, as that organization offers business counseling services to at least 100 local businesses working to make it through these challenging economic times.


Fleege also noted that the 1200 Fund is offering $1.2 million in funding through its newly launched Fast Grant Program. Applications for those grants of $10,000 to $20,000 are being accepted through 11:59 p.m. Thursday, and as of Wednesday, Fleege said more than 200 small businesses had already applied. "So, the demand is going to well outstrip the supply," he said.

"It will take a village," Fleege said of the collaborative efforts of local organizations to help local businesses weather the economic downturn that has accompanied the arrival of the novel coronavirus in the Northland.

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