St Paul (KROC AM News) -  Small business owners in Minnesota are facing a deadline to apply for grants to help offset the economic hardships caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development will accept applications for the $10,000 Small Business Relief Grants through 5:00 PM Thursday (July 2). 

Businesses with 50 or fewer full-time employees are eligible.

The grants will be selected through a lottery process. DEED says the money does not have to be repaid.

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.

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, businesses 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

How will businesses be selected for grants? 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. 

Check here for more information.

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