The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development announced the opening of the 10-day application period for the new Minnesota Small Business Relief Grants Program. The program will disburse more than $60 million in grants of $10,000 to small businesses across the state that have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

This program was approved by the Minnesota Legislature on June 12, signed by Gov. Tim Walz on June 16 and launched by DEED this week.

Applications are now being accepted through 5 p.m. Thursday, July 2. Those who own a small business that has experienced hardship because of COVID-19 may review the eligibility criteria and apply if they qualify. Information about eligibility, frequently asked questions, upcoming webinars and the online application link are on DEED’s website at mn.gov/deed/relief

This is grant money, not a loan – and no repayment will be required. The funds can be used for working capital to support payroll expenses, rent, mortgage payments, utility bills, and other similar business expenses dating back to March 1, 2020.

Businesses with 50 or fewer full-time employees are eligible. Half of the funds will go to businesses in Greater Minnesota and half to businesses in the seven-county Twin Cities metro area. To be eligible, companies must have a permanent physical location in Minnesota and be majority owned by a permanent resident of Minnesota.

Under the law, portions of the funding will be targeted toward businesses that fall into certain categories:

  • $18 million for businesses with six or fewer full-time workers
  • $10 million for minority business enterprises
  • $2.5 million for businesses that are majority owned and operated by veterans
  • $2.5 million for businesses that are majority owned and operated by women
  • $2.5 million for operators of indoor retail and food markets with an ethnic cultural emphasis

A randomized, computer-generated lottery process will be used to select eligible businesses to receive awards. All awards will be disbursed and administered by qualified local and regionally based nonprofit agencies. The selection process will be conducted by DEED in consultation with the Minnesota Lottery and will be observed by an independent third party.