We provide background on the program design, priority selection criteria and selection process for the Small Business Relief Grant program. The process was developed in consultation with the Minnesota Lottery.
A total of 5780 applications were selected through a computer-based randomized selection process to receive a grant award of $10,000.
Per the enacting legislation, three criteria influenced the prioritization of applicants in the lottery:
The lottery process consisted of five rounds of randomized award selections prioritized by the targeted categories and by whether the applicants were restricted from operating by executive orders in effect on May 18, 2020, such that the business could not operate at more than 50 percent of normal capacity.
Rounds 1-4 each focused on one of the targeted business groups and were conducted in a pre-determined order based on the total number of Minnesota businesses in those targeted groups (see Table 1). This allowed the lottery to proceed from hardest-to-fill to easiest-to-fill target groups and gave businesses in harder-to-fill pools the fairest chance of winning an award. After each round, winners were removed from the pool, and non-winners advanced either to the next selection round for which they were eligible or to the Round 5 general pool.
|Round||Target Category||Minimum Awards Made||Business Population|
|3||Microbusiness||1,800||89,257 businesses employ <10 employees. Among these, almost 71,000 employ <5 employees|
Sources: 2012 Survey of Business Owners and 2017 County Business Patterns
After Rounds 1-4, the geographic distribution of awards was assessed and used to determine the number of remaining awards in Round 5 that needed to be awarded to businesses based in either Greater MN or the Twin Cities Metro in order to maintain the required 50/50 funding split.
Round 5 was a general pool of all remaining applications that either did not win an award in Rounds 1-4 or that did not qualify for those targeted rounds.
Each winner from the lottery is paired with a program administrator who will verify the awardee's eligibility and administer the grant funds. Should an awardee be found to be ineligible (for example, it turns out they have a tax lien or received funding through the Small Business Emergency Loan program), their award will instead be given to the next eligible applicant that would have been selected in the same round (among remaining non-selected applicants), but with consideration for maintaining the funding balance by region.
For additional questions please send them to SmallBusinessGrants@state.mn.us
Please note that we are unable to provide a complete list of applications selected to receive a Small Business Relief Grant Program grant until the conclusion of the grant making process. We anticipate being able to provide a complete list of the Small Business Relief Grant Program grantees by late August. As soon as it is available it will be posted on the agency website.
To qualify, an applicant must:
In making awards, there are minimum set asides for various targeted groups and categories of businesses.
Per Minnesota Statutes, section 13.04, subdivision 2, we are requesting information from you to determine if you are eligible for assistance from the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED or Department). You do not have to provide the requested information, but failure to do so will result in the Department’s inability to determine your eligibility for assistance. Your information will not be shared without your consent unless the law allows it or required by a court order.
Applications closed July 2 at 5:00 p.m. Applications for the Small Business Relief Grant Program are no longer being accepted.
NOTE: Applications for the Minnesota Cultural Mall Operator Grant Program are a separate process.
The application will ask various questions related to your business. There is no need to attach any documents.
Here are some Frequently Asked Questions regarding the Small Business Relief Grants 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.
Applications closed July 2 at 5:00 p.m. Applications for the Small Business Relief Grant Program are no longer being accepted.
No. Due to the large volume of applications, we can only accept applications submitted through the online form.
Yes, we received your application. When you fill out the application and click submit, you will receive a default notification from the software we are using to collect application information that says, “Thank you for completing our survey.” This means we’ve received your application. Unfortunately, we’re not able to provide an email confirmation or reference number.
No. You are welcome to start again, complete a new application and submit it.
Unfortunately, you are not able to go back and change your application. However, you can submit another application and your previous application will be disregarded.
No. However we can only accept the last application you submitted. Any applications you submitted prior to the last one you submitted will be disregarded. Please do your best to avoid submitting more than one application.
No. As far as your odds of getting an award, it doesn’t matter at all – as long as you submit it before the deadline (5 p.m. Thursday, July 2). 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.
The statewide network of Small Business Development Centers are available to provide professional expertise and guidance. Find your local SBDC. They will provide application assistance free of charge.
You may use any other assistance provider you wish, but no assistance provider, whether free or fee-based, can guarantee you will receive a grant or that your chances of receiving a grant through the random selection process will be improved.
We will be providing Spanish, Hmong and Somali versions of the information and application to use as a guide for filling out the online application. You will still need to fill out the application using the online form.
Paper or emailed applications will not be accepted.
Per the authorizing legislation, grants will be awarded through a lottery (i.e., a randomized selection process). This process will be conducted by the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) in consultation with the Minnesota Lottery or with assistance from the Minnesota Lottery and will be observed by an independent third party. 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 significantly impacted by Executive Orders (i.e. with their operations restricted to 50% or less of normal capacity) on May 18, will receive priority considerations in the selection process.
No. Only private for-profit businesses are eligible for this program.
If cooperatives are structured to generate and distribute profits for the benefit of members or owners, they are eligible for this program.
The application process for the Cultural Mall Operator Grant is a separate application from the Small Business Relief Grant. The application is now available.
NOTE: Cultural malls are indoor retail and food markets with an ethnic cultural emphasis.
If you meet all the other requirements of this program, you are eligible to apply for a Small Business 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 Small Business Relief Grant.
If the cultural mall in which you are a tenant is a recipient of an operator grant - and if you were awarded a small business relief grant - the grant administrator will work with you and them to ensure there is not a duplication of awards for your business.
No. The majority ownership of a business must be owned by one or more permanent residents of Minnesota.
For the purposes of this program, "permanent resident of Minnesota" means "resident" as defined by Minnesota Statutes (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.
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.
No. Businesses are required to have permanent physical location in Minnesota.
Your application will be considered as an application originating from where the business is physically located. If you are awarded a grant, your grant will be assigned to a nonprofit administrator located in Greater Minnesota.
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).
"In good standing" means that your business is current and active with any required business registrations with the Office of the Secretary of State as of March 1, 2020 and that no Minnesota tax liens have been filed against your business with the Minnesota Secretary of State.
You can look up your registration. Please have your file number available when filling out the grant application.
Note that, depending on your business structure, you may not be required to be registered with the Secretary of State. In that case, you will be deemed “in good standing” with the Minnesota Secretary of State. For example, if you are a sole proprietorship operating under your own name, you do not have to be registered with the state.
No. Per law, your business has to be "in good standing" on March 1 to be eligible to receive a grant from this program.
For the purposes of the grant application, you only need to attest you do not have a Minnesota tax lien filed against your business and that, if required, your business registration with the Minnesota Secretary of State is current as of March 1, 2020. If you are selected for an award, you may be required to provide additional information verifying the tax status of your business.
You can visit the Office of the Secretary of State website to look for tax lien filings.
Not necessarily. If your business operates under your own name and not an assumed named or an LLC, S corporation or other business formation, you do not need to be registered with the Secretary of State. If you are not required to be registered, you will be considered "in good standing" with the Secretary of State for the purposes of this program.
No. This program is limited to private for-profit businesses.
Financial hardship has two alternative definitions: Either 1) your business experienced 10% revenue loss year-over-year between March 1 and May 31, 2019 vs. 2020 or 2) your business was restricted from operating above 50% capacity by executive orders in effect on May 18, 2020. Meeting one or both of these conditions is sufficient to meet the criteria of experiencing financial hardship as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak.
If your business was started after May 31, 2019 but was in operation on May 18, 2020 and your business was restricted from operating above 50% capacity by executive orders in effect on May 18, 2020, you are eligible for this program.
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.
Generally, yes, you should count the proceeds of forgivable loans, PUA benefits, or grants as revenue. If this revenue was sufficient that your business did not experience at least a 10% revenue loss year-over-year between March 1 and May 31, 2019 vs. 2020, then your business should not apply to 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.
No. You can only receive one grant per business.
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.
No. Home-based businesses are not considered eligible for the Small Business Relief Grants Program – with the exception of home-based licensed child care providers, which are eligible.
According to IRS Publication 587 a home-based business is one that uses the owner’s home (or space within the home) as its principal place of business. That is:
Yes, as long as your business has a permanent physical location and your business is not considered a home-based business (unless it is licensed family child care facility). Otherwise you are not eligible.
Not necessarily. This program is limited to businesses with 50 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.
No. For the purposes of this program, your businesses does not have a permanent physical location and is not eligible for this program.
Yes. Licensed child care businesses are exempted from the home-based business exclusion.
By law, only businesses with a permanent physical location in Minnesota are eligible for this program. For the purposes of this program, permanent physical location means a non-mobile permanent facility such as an office, warehouse, storefront or other facility where the business carries on a substantial amount of administration or management of their business.
Businesses that operate exclusively through a mobile operation, such as a mobile food stand, food truck, etc., are not considered as having a permanent physical location.
Facilities that are in the home, in a space within the home, or in a structure on the same property as the home of the business owner are considered a home-based business. Home-based businesses are ineligible for a grant from this program, except licensed child care providers.
For the purposes of this program, for-profit farming operations as defined by Internal Revenue Code 183 are not consider home-based businesses.
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.”
Per the authorizing legislation, a minimum amount of money must be awarded to businesses in the following categories:
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.
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.
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.
Veterans must meet the definition of a veteran as stated in Minnesota Statute 197.447 that states a Veteran is:
For more information, visit the MDVA website.
If your business was restricted by executive orders to operating at 50% or less of normal capacity as determined by the fire marshal on May 18 you will qualify for a priority designation for an award. Business that qualify for that designation will be drawn for first through the randomized selection process - assuming they meet all the other eligibility requirements.
This includes the following categories of businesses:
Please refer to staysafe.mn.gov for a helpful guide to businesses impacted by Executive Orders on May 18 (see Stay Safe Grid).
We expect to notify grant winners in mid-July. You will receive an email from the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development notifying you of the award.
Once you have been selected, your grant will be assigned to one of 17 nonprofit organizations that will administer the award and provide you the funds. Assignments will be based on geography and/or language preferences of the awardee.
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.
After you have been selected for an award, you will be asked by your award administrator for documentation that verifies you are eligible to receive a grant. Some examples of documentation you may be asked to provide include – but are not limited to – the following: sales tax reporting, period statements from third-party sales platforms, merchant services statements, point of sale or register reports, third-party payroll processor reports, federal form 941/employer's quarterly federal tax return, or other state or federal payroll-related filings.
Due to the large volume of applications and awards, DEED is partnering with these organizations to administer and disburse the awards. These organizations are mandated by law to administer these funds. Nonprofit administrators will be assigned grant awardees based on geography, capacity, and/or language needs of awardees.
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.
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.
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.
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 who are found to have violated the terms of the application process or grant agreement may be required to refund the state.
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.
Please consult your accountant, lawyer, or other tax advisor. DEED is unable to provide tax advice.
Please refer to Unemployment Insurance rules and procedures for how to report a grant as income when you request your weekly benefit.
The following businesses would not be eligible:
No, there are no job creation requirements for the Small Business Relief Grants.
No, these uses were not approved by the legislature.
The Minnesota State Legislature has approved this as a one-time small business relief program. All funds must be disbursed by Dec. 31, 2020. We expect all funds to be disbursed by mid-August.
Please refer this question to your PPP loan servicer or financial advisor.
No. Under the legislation, businesses that received SBEL loans are not eligible.
You can send your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.
Please review the list of Frequently Asked Questions section before contacting us. Please note that, due to a high volume of inquiries, we may not be able to respond to individual questions quickly. We will read all questions and will post answers on the FAQ as soon as possible. Check the FAQ regularly for updates.
If you still have a question, email SmallBusinessGrants@state.mn.us.
DEED hosted webinars with information about the Minnesota Small Business Relief Grants.