Here are some Frequently Asked Questions regarding the Main Street COVID Relief Grant program. New information will be added as it becomes available. Please check back frequently.
We list an email at the end if your question is not addressed here, but due to the large volume of interest in this program, we may not be able to respond to every inquiry promptly.
1.1 Are nonprofit organizations eligible for this program? (updated 9/27/2021)
Yes. Per the legislation that established the program, only nonprofits that earn revenue similar to businesses are eligible for funding. Nonprofit organization must meet at least one of the two definitions of eligibility below:
- A nonprofit organization that earns 50% of more of their revenue on an ongoing basis through a non-tax-deductible sales or dues in a fee-for-service model similar to for-profit businesses.
- A nonprofit organization that is a theater, concert venue, museum, arts organization, fitness center, ot other business type whose operations were restricted by an Executive Order to reduce the spread of COVID-19.
1.2 How do nonprofit organization determine if they meet the requirement that the business is owned by resident(s) of Minnesota?
For the purpose of this program you can use the residency of the board of directors of the applicant organization. For example if 50% or more of the board of directors are residents of Minnesota then the organization meets the residency requirements of the program.
1.3 Are cooperatives eligible for this program?
1.4 I represent an operator of a cultural mall. Where do I apply for the Cultural Mall Operator Grant?
The application process for the Cultural Mall Operator Grant is a separate application from the COVID Relief Grant Program. The application will be made available later this fall.
NOTE: Cultural malls are indoor retail and food markets with an ethnic cultural emphasis.
1.5 I am a tenant of cultural mall that is applying for and may receive a Cultural Mall Operator Grant. Can I still apply for a Main Street COVID Relief Grant?
If you meet all the other requirements of this program, you are eligible to apply for a Main Street COVID Relief Grant and you are encouraged to apply. However, you can only receive one grant, either as a subgrantee through the Cultural Mall Operator Grant or as an applicant through the Main Street COVID Relief Grant.
If the cultural mall in which you are a tenant is a recipient of an operator grant – and if you are awarded a relief grant – the grant administrator will work with you and them to ensure there is not a duplication of awards for your business.
1.6 I am a resident of Minnesota, but my business operates outside of Minnesota. Is my business eligible for this program?
No. Businesses are required to operate in Minnesota.
1.7 I am a resident of another state, but my business operates in Minnesota. Is my business eligible for this program?
No. The majority ownership of a business must be owned by one or more permanent residents of Minnesota.
1.8 Does my immigration status impact my eligibility for this program?
1.9 Are municipal liquor stores eligible for this program?
Public entities such as government agencies, commissioners, and school districts are not eligible for this program.
1.10 I started my business after December 31, 2019. I am unable to compare revenues between 2019 and 2020. Am I eligible for this program?
If your business was operating in 2020 and your business operations were directly restricted by executive order your business meets the financial hardship requirement of this program. If your business was not directly restricted by executive order you must meet the alterative definition of financial hardship such that your business experienced a 10% year to year decrease in revenues from 2019 to 2020.
If your business shows less than a 10% decrease in revenue from 2019 to 2020 your business does not meet the financial hardship requirement of this program.
1.11 Are churches eligible for this program?
No. Nonprofit organizations apply for a grant from this program must be organizations that earn revenue in similar ways to a business such as through ticket sales and membership fees. While churches may have some ticketed events or fee-for-service programs it is generally understood that churches do not earn revenue in similar ways to a business.
1.12 I own a commercial property for retail businesses. I can't rent it out due to COVID. Is my business eligible for this program?
If you are able to demonstrate that your business meets the definition of financial hardship by demonstrating a 10% loss in revenue in 2020 compared to 2019 your business may meet the definition of eligible for this program.
1.13 I received forgivable loans, grants, and/or Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) in 2020. Do I count these as revenue for this program? What if these funds were sufficient to make up for any revenue losses I experienced during this time period?
Generally, yes, you should count all taxable revenue to the business as business revenue. If this revenue was sufficient that your business did not experience at least a 10% revenue loss year-over-year between 2019 and 2020 then your business should not apply to this program.
Depending on the structure of your business you may need to include any unemployment benefits you received. For example if a business operates as a sole proprietorship that is legally indistinguishable from the owner then unemployment benefits would need to be counted.
1.14 I am self-employed. I received – or am receiving – unemployment benefits through the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program. Am I ineligible for this program?
Not necessarily. However, your business must meet all other eligibility requirements, including demonstrating financial hardship after factoring PUA benefits into your self-employment revenue.
1.15 I received a state-funded relief grant or forgivable loan such as Small Business Emergency Loan Program (SBEL) loan, or Small Business Relief Grant. Can I still receive a grant through this program?
Yes. However, it will impact you prioritization in the randomized selection process.
1.16 I applied for and received a grant from another source (local or city government, nonprofit, foundation, etc.). Can I still receive a grant from the state through this program?
1.17 I received a Paycheck Protection Program loan or an Economic Injury Disaster Loan (or any other federal SBA loan or grant, including an EIDL Advance). Am I still eligible for a grant from this program?
1.18 Can my business receive more than one grant?
No. You can only receive one grant per business.
1.19 I own or I am part-owner of multiple businesses that could be eligible for an award. Can each of those business apply to receive a grant?
No. If you own more than a 20% stake in more than one business only one of the businesses you own can apply and be eligible to receive an award.
1.20 I own a business with multiple locations. Can each of the locations be eligible to apply and receive a grant?
1.21 I am self-employed and/or an independent contractor. Am I eligible for this program?
1.22 Besides myself, my business does not have any employees. Am I eligible for this program?
1.23 My business has zero employees and/or hires independent contractors for some of its functions. Am I eligible for this program?
Yes. Your business would qualifying as having 1 full-time equivalent employee.
1.24 My business employs more than 200 employees but they all are employed part-time. Am I disqualified from this program?
Not necessarily. This program is limited to businesses with 200 or less full-time equivalent employees (FTE). Please consult with a tax or accounting professional on how to calculate the number of full-time equivalent employees your business employs.
1.25 My business only employs part-time employees. Am I disqualified from this program?
1.26 My business is a for-profit farming operation. Am I eligible for this program?
Yes. If you are selected to receive an award, you may be asked for information that verifies your farm is operated for profit and is not a so-called "hobby farm."
1.27 What kind of businesses can not apply for a grant through this program?
The following businesses would not be eligible:
- a business manufacturing, distributing, selling or conducting related activities of sexually explicit materials;
- a business that derives income from passive investments without operational ties to operating businesses;
- a business whose activities are primarily focused on speculative activities that develop profits from fluctuations in price rather than through the normal course of trade;
- a business that earns more than half of its annual net revenue from lending activities;
- a business engaged in pyramid sales, where a participant's primary incentive is based on the sales made by an ever-increasing number of participants;
- a business engaged in activities that are prohibited by federal law or applicable law in the jurisdiction where the business is located or conducted; and
- a business engaged in gambling enterprises, unless the business earns less than 50% of its annual net revenue from lottery sales.
1.28 Does my business need to meet the $10,000 revenue threshold if my business was restricted by executive order?
1.29 I purchased a business in 2019. Can I use the financial documents of the previous owner to show my business faced financial hardship?
1.30 I recently sold my business. Is my business eligible for this program?
The business may be eligible but the current owner must apply on behalf of the business.
1.31 I recently closed my business. Can I apply for this program?
1.32 Does a recently started business qualify for this grant or it is for businesses that existed prior 2021?
To be eligible for a grant from this program a business must have started and been in operation during the 2020 calendar year. Businesses that started after December 31, 2020 are not eligible for this program.
1.33 Are real estate agents eligible?
1.34 Does rental property qualify as an eligible business? How about landlords affected by COVID (tenants not paying their rent), would they be eligible for these funds?
If it simply as passive investment without operational ties to operating businesses it is not eligible. However if it is an actively managed business that provides housing and property management services, it is eligible.
2 How to Apply
2.1 When and how do I apply?
You can apply using an online application link that will posted in the Application tab starting one the application portal opens in September 20, 2021. The portal will be open to accept application for 10 days once the portal opens. The portal closes September 29 11:59 PM.
You will need to create a profile with a valid email address. The same email address cannot be used for more than one application.
2.2 Can I send in a paper or email application?
No. Due to the large volume of applications, we can only accept applications submitted through the online portal.
2.3 I have no home access to the internet or a computer to submit an application. Is there another way to apply?
Applications must be submitted through the online application portal. Public libraries may a resource in your area that can offer computer and internet access and assistance in scanning documents.
2.4 I do not have access to the Chrome browser. Will the Microsoft Edge Browser work?
The application portal may work with Microsoft Edge. However, it will work best using the freely and universally available Chrome browser.
2.5 I applied for the Small Business Relief Grant program last year and I didn’t get a grant. Do I need a separate email to apply to this program?
No. This is a new program and a new system for collecting applications. You can reuse the same email address to apply to the COVID Relief Grant program. However, you can only use your email once for this program.
2.6 Can I have a third party, such as an accounting firm, do the application on my behalf?
Yes. However, a unique email address will need to be associated with the application. A CPA that is completing applications on behalf of multiple businesses will need to provide a separate and unique email address for each application. The owner must sign all required documents and will be solely responsible for the content of the application and abiding by the terms of program and the grant agreement.
2.7 After I submit my application where can I find a copy of my application?
You are able to log into the application portal and view your application.
2.8 I started my application but didn't complete it and left the website before clicking submit. Can I go back and start where I left off?
Yes. Simply log in back into the application portal and continue where you left off.
2.9 I completed the application and submitted it, but I either made a mistake or I need to update it. Can I go back and change my information?
Yes. Send a request to MSCRG.DEED@state.mn.us to request an opportunity to change the information in your application. You cannot change the information in the application after the close of the 10 day application window.
2.10 Does it matter when I submit my application?
Applications must be submitted within between September 20, 2021 and September 29, 2021. As far as your odds of getting an award, it doesn't matter at all, as long as you submit within the application window. However, it is advisable not to wait until the last minute. The system is designed to handle a high number of applications at one time, but there is a limit on how many it can handle.
2.11 I need the application translated into another language. Where can I get help?
We will provide translated copies of the application questions on our website. Please use these documents as a guide for completing and submitting your application using the online portal. You will need to complete and submit the application using the online portal. Paper applications or emailed applications will not be accepted.
2.12 I am an independent contractor 1099, do I just put our name in the business name section.
2.13 I run a nonprofit organization that provides assistance to small business owners. How can I help? Can I participate in administering awards?
You can share information about this grant opportunity to your clients and customers and offer to assist them in completing their application.
Unless your organization is one the named organizations in the legislation, you are not eligible to administer awards.
2.14 As a nonprofit, we do not have an owner, such as a small business might have. What should I put in that field in order to fill out the application correctly?
For a non-profit, it is okay to list the Executive director or the Chair/President of the board who lives in Minnesota.
2.15 My business operates on a fiscal year that is not the same as a calendar year (Jan 1 through December 31). When filling out my application should I report on my revenues based on a calendar year or a fiscal year?
Business that operate on a fiscal year have the option to report their revenues consistent with how they report their taxes whether that’s on a traditional calendar year or a fiscal year.
3.1 What is the definition of a resident of Minnesota?
For the purposes of this program resident is defined by Minn. Stat. 290.01. The term "resident" means any individual who is domiciled in Minnesota or is domiciled outside the state who maintains a place of abode in the state and spends, in the aggregate, more than one-half of the tax year in Minnesota, unless the individual or the spouse of the individual is in the armed forces of the United States.
The term "abode" means a dwelling maintained by an individual, whether or not owned by the individual and whether or not occupied by the individual, and includes a dwelling place owned or leased by the individual's spouse.
3.2 If I am selected to receive a grant, what information will I be asked to show to verify I am a resident of Minnesota?
You may be asked by your grant administrator to show proof of residency in the form of a utility bill, tax form, driver's license or some other acceptable form of information as determined by the grant administrator. You do not need to provide these documents with your application.
3.3 I am a resident of Minnesota and I live in the 7 county metro area however my business is physically located outside of the 7-county metropolitan area. How does this affect my application for a grant?
Your application will be considered as an application originating from where the business operates. If you are awarded a grant, your grant will be assigned to a nonprofit administrator located in Greater Minnesota.
3.4 I am a resident of Minnesota and I own more than one business and at least one is located in the 7-county metropolitan area and another one is located in Greater Minnesota. Can I submit separate applications for each business, and can my businesses be eligible for separate awards?
An individual business owner should only submit one application and cannot receive more than one grant regardless of how many separate businesses they own or how many business locations are a part of their business(es).
3.5 How is financial hardship defined? What level of financial hardship must my business demonstrate to qualify for this program?
Financial hardship is defined as follows: your business experienced 10% revenue loss year-over-year between January 1, 2020 and December 31, 2020 vs. the same time period in 2019.
3.6 How is revenue defined? My business often doesn't get paid for work until 2-3 months after we complete it.
For the purposes of this program, we can accept either accrual or cash basis accounting when calculating revenues over the relevant time period. Whatever method is used, it should be consistent between the two years being compared. The revenue reported should be reflect in the tax documents you provide.
3.7 How is full-time equivalent employee defined and how is that calculated? How are part-time employees counted towards the employee county?
Full-time equivalent employee means an employee who works 40 hours or more, on average, each week. Employees who work fewer than 40 hours are calculated as a fraction of a single full-time equivalent employee. There are two acceptable methods for calculation the number of full-time employees:
1st Method: The applicant may calculate the average number of hours paid per week for a part-time employee during the year. For example, if an employee was paid for 30 hours per week on average during 2020, the employee would be an FTE employee of 0.75. If an employee was paid for 10 hours per week on average during the covered period, the employee would be an FTE employee of 0.25.
2nd Method: Applicants may choose to use a full-time equivalency of 0.5 for each part-time employee, whether they were paid for fewer or more than 20 hours per week.
3.8 My business is a minority business enterprise and my business is also owned by a women. How does my business falling under multiple categories for prioritization affect my odds of getting a grant?
Per the authorizing legislation, a minimum amount of money must be awarded to businesses in the following 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
If your business falls under multiple categories, your business will be in a drawing for each category in which it qualifies. You can only receive one award.
For example, your business will be included in the randomized selection for awards to women owned businesses. If you are not awarded under that category, your business will be included in the randomized selection for minority business enterprises. If you are not awarded under that category, your business will be in a final general round that includes all eligible businesses that have not been selected for an award.
3.9 Do I have to have a certification showing that my business is a minority business enterprise, or a veteran or women owned business to apply for this program?
No. If you disclose that your business may qualify under those categories, you may be required to provide additional information confirming the status of your business before receiving an award. Any official certification you received can be used as documentation, but it is not required to have this certification.
3.10 I do not want to disclose my status as a minority business enterprise, veteran or woman owned business. Am I required to?
No. However, if you are a minority business or a veteran or woman owned business – and you want your business to be considered in the drawings for funds set aside for those businesses – you will need to indicate that on your application.
3.11 What is the definition of a Veteran being used to be eligible for the veteran-owned business grant?
Veterans must meet the definition of a veteran as stated in Minn. Stat. 197.447 that states a Veteran is:
- A citizen of the United States or a resident alien
- Separated under honorable conditions from any branch of the armed forces of the United States
- Served on active duty for 181 consecutive days or by reason of disability incurred while serving on active duty, OR:
- Met the minimum active duty requirement as defined by Code of Federal Regulations, title 38, section 3.12a, OR
- Has active military service certified under section 401, Public Law 95-202 certified by the United States secretary of defense as active military service and a discharge under honorable conditions must be issued by the secretary
For more information, visit the MDVA website.
3.12 When I input revenue information, should I use gross income or net income?
Gross income should be used to apply for this program.
3.13 My business had received a grant from my local County called the COVID-19 Relief Grant. How do I know if this grant was a state-funded relief grant or if this was a county funded relief grant?
Any documents you signed to receive the funds should describe the source of the funding. If you cant find the information or not sure mark “not sure”.
4 After Submitting Your Application
4.1 Who is selecting the winners? How will selections be made?
Per the authorizing legislation, grants will be awarded through a randomized selection process. The methods, procedures and certification of fairness of the selection process will be posted publicly on this website.
Businesses that are majority-owned by military veterans, women, and ethnic or racial minorities; employ 6 people or fewer; and/or were did not receive previous assistance from other state relief programs will be prioritized in the selection process.
4.2 When will I know if I have been selected for a grant?
We expect to notify applicants if their application has been selected for consideration in mid-October. You will receive an email through the application portal on behalf of the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development notifying you via email of the award. Due to the large volume of applications and awards email will the only method of communication.
4.3 If I am selected and found to be eligible for a grant, how will I get grant funds?
Once you have been selected, your grant will be assigned to one of nonprofit organizations that will confirm your eligibility and administer the award and provide you the funds. Assignments will be based on geography and/or language preferences of the awardee.
4.4 If I am not selected for a grant, will I be notified?
We will attempt to notify all applicants who provided an email address about the status of their application. However, due to the large volume of applications, we may not be able to get to everyone quickly.
4.5 Who are the organizations that will be administering grants? Do I have to go through them to get the grant?
Due to the large volume of applications and awards, DEED is partnering with these organizations to administer and disburse the awards. Nonprofit administrators will be assigned grant awardees based on geography, capacity, and/or language needs of selected applicants.
7-County Metro Area
- African Development Center
- African Economic Development Solutions
- Central Minnesota Development Company
- Hmong American Partnership
- Latino Economic Development Center
- Metropolitan Consortium of Community Developers
- Metropolitan Economic Development Association
- Neighborhood Development Center
- New American Development Center
- Northside Economic Opportunity Network
- Initiative Foundation
- Northland Foundation
- Northwest Minnesota Foundation
- Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation
- Southwest Initiative Foundation
- West Central Initiative
4.6 If I am selected, what kind of documents will I have to sign to get this grant money?
You will have to sign a document certifying you are eligible to receive this grant and that the grant will be used for eligible uses only.
4.7 What can the proceeds of the grant be used for?
Grant funds shall be used for working capital to support payroll expenses, rent, mortgage payments, utility bills, and other similar expenses that occur or have occurred since March 1, 2020, in the regular course of business. All uses must be exclusively for Minnesota operations.
4.8 Can the funds be used to pay business-related insurance deductibles?
4.9 Can the funds be used to repair my facility or equipment?
4.10 Can the funds be used to purchase equipment?
No. Grant funds shall be used for working capital expenses that occur in the regular course of business. The purchase of equipment is not regarded as a working capital expense.
4.11 Can the funds be used to pay back taxes including property taxes?
4.12 Under any circumstances will have to pay to grant back?
This is a grant – not a loan – and you will not be required to pay it back. However, the state reserves the right to audit the use of funds and may conduct an audit check on a random selection of grant recipients. Grant recipients that are found to have violated the terms of application process or grant agreement may be required to refund the state.
4.13 Is the amount of the grant taxable to the recipient business?
Please consult your accountant, lawyer, or other tax advisor. DEED is unable to provide tax advice. Generally yes this would be considered taxable income.
4.14 Do I have to create or retain jobs for a grant?
No, there are no job creation requirements for the Small Business Relief Grants.
4.15 Can the funds be used for business acquisition and/or the purchase of land or building?
No, these uses were not approved by the legislature.
4.16 How long will this program last?
The Minnesota State Legislature has approved this as a one-time small business relief program. All funds must be disbursed by June 30, 2022.
4.17 If I receive a grant from this program, how does that affect my Paycheck Protection Program loan?
Please refer this question to your PPP loan servicer or financial advisor.
4.99 I still have questions and I am not finding answers in this FAQ. Where do I send my questions?
You can send your questions to MSCRG.DEED@state.mn.us. We will be reading all questions that come in and updating the FAQ as quickly as possible. Due to the large volume of inquiries, we may not be able to respond individually to each question in a timely manner.