County EDA wants to help non-profits
The Faribault County Economic Development Authority (EDA) had a special meeting held virtually last Wednesday afternoon.
“We have a few items we need to clarify before our next regular meeting,” EDA specialist Annie Leibel told the board members who were present via computer or phone. “One of those is our non-profit grants. Applications open on Sept. 14 and we need to plan out the grant award process.”
Leibel explained that at a previous EDA meeting she proposed using a three-tier level of grants to non-profits that would have different project scopes and different grant level amounts.
“I have learned that most other places are not using this tier approach and I want to know how you feel we should approach this,” Leibel said. “Should we take this tier approach or not, and what should our grant amounts be?”
After some discussion, the board voted to not have the different tiers, but to just have one category for all the non-profits. The motion also called for the grants to be up to $3,000 each.
“I think we just need to keep it as simple as possible,” board member Lars Bierly said. “We have this money and we want to get it out to the most places we can.”
Some of the board’s discussion centered on how to determine who qualifies or not both as a business or as a non-profit.
“The County Board at their meeting today decided to include home-based businesses in the business grant program,” Leibel said. “So we will need to determine how we will qualify home-based businesses.”
She gave an example of someone who just buys and sells items on eBay as saying they are a home-based business and want a large grant.
“We do ask all businesses now to provide their certificate of business from the Secretary of State’s office,” Leibel said. “Will that be sufficient for a home-based business?”
An EDA board member also suggested the home based business provide a tax ID number, but that was not definitely decided on by the end of the discussion.
As far as the non-profits go, EDA chairman John Herman repeated the idea to keep things simple.
“If it is a church, or whatever non-profit, we should see if they qualify and then say ‘here’s your grant,'” Herman said. “The simpler we have it, the less chance we are going to violate the state rules for this money.”
The board did discuss the fact that businesses and non-profits do have to provide documentation for what these funds will be used for and then receipts to show what the monies were spent on.
Leibel said the board members should be prepared for a lengthy possible two-hour meeting when they meet on Sept. 22, as they will review the applications at that time.
In other business last Wednesday afternoon, the EDA board also studied their plan for a loan forgiveness grant.
At a previous meeting the EDA board had decided to spend $43,000 of the CARES Act funds they received from the county to forgive the part of the loans they had made to businesses who were affected by the pandemic and state shutdown.
Leibel reported that there is some issue with forgiving both the principal and interest of the loans.
“We can forgive the principal amounts of the payments for the period of March through the end of the year, but not the interest portion,” she reported. “The borrowers also have to show they were affected by COVID-19.”
The board passed a motion to do just that, and forgive the loan amounts from March through December for those businesses in good standing with their loan repayments.
The board also gave approval to place an ad in the Faribault County Register and in the South Central News soliciting non-profits to apply for a grant up to $3,000.
Information on the business and non-profit grants is available at the Faribault County EDA office located in the Ag Center in Blue Earth, or at www.fceda.net, or by contacting Annie Leibel at 651-338-1816 or email@example.com.