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St. Louis Co. distributing grants to help small businesses during COVID-19

Alejandra Palacios
Updated: September 16, 2020 07:12 PM

St. Louis County received $24.5 million of funding through the CARES Act from the state and the money is being used for small business, community, and individual assistance as many continue facing hardships during this health pandemic.

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The county is encouraging people to apply for the three different grants for small business, community and individual assistance. Some of the money has already been distributed to some the businesses who applied for these grants, like Wild State Cider.

"As a small business it's incredibly helpful to have that assistance," said Allison Heitmiller, the director of marketing and operations of Wild State Cider.

"When you think of businesses being forced to have their doors shut and then once they reopen they have all these extra expenses to prepare to keep employees and customers safe, these are very challenging times for everybody," said Matthew Johnson, the director of planning and community development for St. Louis County.

The small business assistance provides emergency grant assistance of up to $50,000 to businesses and non-profits with 100 or fewer employees for COVID-19 related expenses.

"We were able to purchase additional PPE for our staff and for community members that are entering our business. It was helpful for being able to buy signage and to just really make sure that people are understanding how to operate within our facility safely," said Heitmiller.

Wild State Cider received $4,500 through this grant. Staff said itt has been helpful. They've invested in plexiglass, face masks, hand sanitizer, and more.

There's also funding available for community assistance to help organizations that serve populations that are disproportionately impacted by COVID-19.

"Our priority populations include our communities of color like American Indian communities, queer communities, our elderly and people with disabilities, as well as people who are experiencing homelessness," said Laura Birnbaum, the social service supervisor for St. Louis County.

The community assistance includes help to nursing homes, assisted living facilities, community based services, mental health and substance use disorder services.

There's also help available for people who due to COVID-19, are in a crisis situation and are at risk of losing their home. This is done through the COVID-19 Housing Assistance Program. Households in public housing, Section 8, Bridges and other subsidized housing programs are not eligible for this funding.

"This is for people who might be behind on mortgage or their utilities or their rent due to COVID-19. Maybe they lost hours or lost employment due to covid so we are really hoping to be able to help those people out too as far as making ends meet to get through this," said Birnbaum.

For those interested in applying and getting more information, click here. You can also call St. Louis County CARES line at 218-726-2033 or email cares@stlouiscountymn.gov.

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Alejandra Palacios

Copyright 2020 WDIO-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved

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