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Latest round of COVID-19 financial relief for businesses helps 66 Kandiyohi County establishments

Kandiyohi County and the Economic Development Commission have successfully distributed over $840k to county businesses through the MPR grant program. The funds, which came from the state’s latest coronavirus relief bill, passed in December, did not stretch far enough to fund all the applicants.

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The Minnesota Pandemic Relief Grant program assisted 66 Kandiyohi County businesses, granting out over $840,000. West Central Tribune file photo
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WILLMAR — In Kandiyohi County, the Minnesota Pandemic Relief grant program has successfully assisted 66 county businesses by distributing $843,754 in state-provided funds.

The county, along with the Kandiyohi County and City of Willmar Economic Development Commission , reviewed dozens of the applicants over the past several weeks, trying to help as many businesses as it could with the money provided.

"This was not taken lightly. We worked very hard to try to make it fair," said Larry Kleindl, county administrator, at the March 2 County Board meeting. "There is never enough dollars to cover everyone."

The program was established in January, after the county received just over $850,000 from the state's latest relief bill, that included funding for business relief to be administered by each county.

"They thought the local government had more direct contact with what their business needs were," said Kleindl. "What businesses were hurting the most."

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The county and EDC wanted to focus the funds on businesses that maybe had not received relief funding in the past or were being particularly hard hit by the pandemic, such as hotels, restaurants and event centers. Even with those tighter restrictions, there were still more applicants than funding available. To fund all the eligible applicants the county would have needed more than $975,000.

"It was difficult to make some decisions," said Jean Spaulding, CARES coordinator. "There were not enough funds for the requests that came before us."

Spaulding has been working for the county since August to coordinate distributions from the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act.

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Despite the disappointment of not being able to assist more, the commissioners were happy with what the county and EDC were able to achieve in a short amount of time.
"It was good we had these funds. I know there are people still out there hurting because of the situation. There is only so much we can do, it is a tragedy," said Commissioner Rollie Nissen. "But, I am glad we were able to help those we were able to help."

Spaulding said as she visited with local businesses about the program, she saw firsthand how businesses were helping even their competition to get through the challenging times.

"It was really inspiring," Spaulding said. "It goes to show the caliber of the business community that we have in Kandiyohi County."

According to the report, the business owners have been grateful for the assistance and for the easy, quick application and approval process. The latest round of funding is being used for things such as payroll, rent and utilities.

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"The money got in their hands on a real timely basis," Spaulding said.

While things are still challenging, Spaulding said business owners are looking forward to the summer, when it is hoped things will start getting back to normal.

"I sense this optimism," Spaulding said.

The commissioners hope more business relief could come from the state and federal government and are proud of all the hard work all involved parties put in to make the programs possible.

"This is good government," said Commissioner Corky Berg. "Government working together with other agencies and working with our businesses."

For related stories see Coronavirus .

Shelby Lindrud is a reporter with the West Central Tribune of Willmar. Her focus areas are arts and entertainment, agriculture, features writing and the Kandiyohi County Board.

She can be reached via email slindrud@wctrib.com or direct 320-214-4373.


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