ST. LOUIS COUNTY — Area small businesses, organizations and individuals most impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic will be eligible to apply for federal funding.

St. Louis County currently has $12 million ready to disperse and has started by launching a new web page, which contains information about COVID-19 relief grant eligibility requirements, how to apply, timelines and fund usage.

The County Board earlier this month unanimously approved a plan to distribute the $24.5 million federal CARES Act funds the county received. The plan includes providing $6 million to local small businesses, and another $6 million for community and individual assistance.

“This pandemic has been devastating for many of our citizens and small businesses,” County Board Chairman Mike Jugovich said in a press release Thursday. “While we can't fill the gap for everyone, we're working hard to distribute this money as quickly and fairly as possible to make a positive difference.”

Money will be allocated in two phases for small business applicants.

Phase 1, which runs from Monday through Sept. 7, and is dedicated to businesses and nonprofits with 25 or fewer full-time employees. Businesses may apply for assistance up to $1,000 per employee, with a maximum of $25,000, for COVID-related expenses such as to purchase personal protective equipment, cleaning supplies, signage and safety barriers.

An online application, as well as a downloadable paper application, will be available on the website when the Phase 1 application period opens at 8 a.m. Monday.

Phase 2 will, which begins Sept. 8, is for businesses and non-profits with 100 or fewer full-time employees. Applicants can apply for up to $50,000. Besides COVID-related expenses, businesses may be partially reimbursed for loss of revenue, rent, mortgage and utilities.

The application period for organizations seeking community assistance grants will run Wednesday through Sept. 8.

Funds are intended to support organizations helping to meet the needs of the most vulnerable in area communities. Organizations may apply for assistance for COVID-19 expenditures, such as PPE, physical modifications and additional staffing, as well as for proposed or incurred service and program expansion related to COVID-19.

A week-long review process will ensue, with grant recipients notified by Sept. 18.

Two virtual information sessions will be provided, at noon Thursday and 10 a.m. Aug. 31, to explain the process and answer applicants’ questions. Participation in one of the sessions is recommended but not necessary; advanced registration is required.

Additionally, the county will soon have an online application form for individuals and families experiencing emergency situations due to COVID-19’s impact.

Examples of emergency situations are: being without or at risk of losing housing, utilities, or transportation that would affect gaining or maintaining employment. Any assistance would be paid directly to the appropriate vendor, such as a landlord, mortgage or utility company, or licensed repair person.

“On behalf of the board, I am pleased that we can offer this assistance to help those who are hurting,” Jugovich added.

More information on assistance grant opportunities can also be obtained by emailing cares@stlouiscountymn.gov or by calling 218-726-2033.

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