ST. PAUL — The first wave of financial assistance for businesses struggling through the coronavirus pandemic has been disbursed, according to a news release from Gov. Tim Walz's office.

As of Thursday, Jan. 14, the Minnesota Dept. of Revenue has issued $67.3 million in state aid to nearly 4,000 eligible businesses. The quick-acting funds are part of a three-pronged package to help Minnesota businesses through the pandemic, passed by state lawmakers in December.

“This relief comes at a crucial time for our businesses who continue to make enormous sacrifices for the health and safety of Minnesotans,” Walz said Thursday. “This is a critical lifeline for those businesses and for the Minnesotans whose livelihoods depend on them.”

The first wave of aid was designed to be disbursed quickly and automatically by calculating which businesses, according to their tax receipts, lost 30% or more of their revenue since the pandemic began.

Businesses who did not receive a direct payment yet but believe they would meet the requirements are encouraged to contact the Department of Revenue.

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As part of December's aid package, there are two more waves of relief: $14 million for movie theaters and convention centers, and $115 million to be distributed by counties to needy businesses in their communities via local grants.