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St. Louis County distributes millions more in recovery aid

The third round of funding prioritized business that didn't receive other aid packages, and those owned by women and minorities.

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St. Louis County completed distribution of $3.84 million in funds from the Minnesota Legislature to assist small businesses throughout the county.

A total of 749 eligible businesses and nonprofits received funding through the county's third phase of Small Business COVID-19 Relief Grants, said a county news release Thursday.

As far as federal American Rescue Act funding, of which the county is projected to receive $54.3 million , this week's County Board meeting addressed what's next.

"We need some time to really get our arms around the bill," Administrator Kevin Gray told the board, saying administration would be prepared to have an informative discussion with commissioners later on, and that the federal bill affords more time to dispense funding to individuals and businesses involved.

The latest round of state funding was meted out "in order to provide meaningful assistance to as many businesses as possible," the county said.

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Phase 3 grants were awarded based on funding priorities. Highest priority was given to businesses and non-profits that were forced to close to the public last November following Gov. Tim Walz's executive order, as COVID-19 cases surged prior to the holidays, and who did not receive a COVID-19 Business Relief Payment from the Minnesota Department of Revenue in January.

The second priority level was for businesses that hadn't received the relief payment, and that are primarily owned by women, minorities or veterans. All other eligible businesses fell into a third priority tier.

The complete list of businesses receiving funds in Phase 3 is available at stlouiscountymn.gov/cares .

"We are thankful to the state legislature for recognizing the hardships that our small businesses continue to face as the pandemic has evolved and various shutdowns have occurred," County Board Chair Mike Jugovich said. "We appreciate being able to pass these funds along to help keep these businesses afloat until better days are here."

In addition to the $3.8 million in state funds, the county has also distributed nearly $12 million in federal CARES Act funds. This includes $6.2 million distributed to small businesses in two phases last year; $1.8 million to 12 public school districts and two charter schools within the county; $2.8 million in funding to community organizations; and $89,000 in individual assistance.

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