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Willmar area agencies offer videos, assistance to apply for frontline worker pay

Mid-Minnesota Development Commission and Kandiyohi County and City of Willmar Economic Development Commission worked together, and with other agencies, to create videos to provide information and assistance to those who may qualify for frontline worker pay compensation from the state of Minnesota.

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Health care workers, such as these who worked with Jennie-O Turkey Store to test employees during the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as Jennie-O employees are among the frontline worker sectors eligible to receive compensation from the state of Minnesota. Applications under the Frontline Worker Pay Law are being accepted through July 22.
Erica Dischino / West Central Tribune file photo
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WILLMAR — Several area organizations joined forces to inform local residents about the Frontline Worker Pay Law and assist local residents in applying for the compensation being offered by the state of Minnesota for those who could not stay home during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Mid-Minnesota Development Commission, the Kandiyohi County and City of Willmar Economic Development Commission, Willmar Area Community Foundation, Southwest Initiative Foundation and United Community Action Partnership worked together to create videos about the Frontline Worker Pay Law and about who qualifies for the benefits. The videos are available in English, Somali and Spanish.

The organizations are also offering assistance in filling out the applications to local individuals and groups, according to Michelle Marotzke, economic development professional with Mid-Minnesota Development Commission.

“Our intent is to make sure those who may qualify for this program know about it and know how to get help with completing the application,” Marotzke said.

Marotzke narrates the English video alongside Sarah Swedburg from the EDC.

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Both Marotzke and Swedburg can assist with applications, as well as Kelsey Olson with the EDC. They are willing to go out to local businesses or another convenient place in the community to assist frontline workers in filling out the applications.

The Willmar Public Library is also offering assistance July 13, between 2 p.m. and 8 p.m., for those who need help filling out an application. If that day does not work, call the library at 320-235-3162 to make an appointment for another day and time.

Those who are getting assistance are asked to be prepared with their email address and other personal information, their job's information, bank account number and bank routing number in order for the application process to go quickly.

Assistance is also available by contacting United Community Action Partnership at 320-235-0850 .

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Applications for frontline worker pay will be open through July 22. The money set aside for this program will be split equally among all approved applicants after the application period ends. For those who are denied frontline worker pay, there is a 15-day appeals period and the appeals review period.

Following the closing of the application period and the appeals period, each eligible applicant will be provided with an equal payment, not to exceed $1,500.

The videos explaining the Frontline Worker Pay Law can be found by searching "Kandiyohi County and City of Willmar EDC" on youtube.com .

The Somali video is narrated by Leila Hussein, a journalist who runs the Somali Willmar Area TV news site on Facebook.

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Fernando Cano narrates the Spanish video. Cano is a graduate of the multilingual journalism program organized by the Mid-Minnesota Development Commission in cooperation with Ridgewater College and other local organizations.

Who qualifies for Frontline Worker Pay

To qualify for frontline worker pay, an employee must have been employed at least 120 hours in Minnesota in one or more frontline sectors between March 15, 2020, and June 30, 2021, according to the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry website. They also must not have had the ability to telework due to the nature of the individual’s work, and worked in close proximity to people outside their household.

There are also income requirements that individuals must meet for at least one year between Dec. 31, 2019, and Jan. 1, 2022. Those with direct COVID-19 patient care responsibilities must have had an adjusted gross income of less than $350,000 for married taxpayers filing jointly, or less than $175,000 for other filers, according to the website.

Workers in occupations without direct COVID-19 patient care responsibilities must have an adjusted gross income of less than $185,000 for married taxpayers filing jointly, or $85,000 for other filers.

Finally, workers must not have received an unemployment insurance benefit payment for more than 20 weeks on a cumulative basis for weeks between March 15, 2020, and June 26, 2021.

Frontline sectors

The Minnesota legislation identifies these frontline sectors:

  • long-term care and home care;
  • health care;
  • emergency responders;
  • public health, social service, and regulatory service;
  • courts and corrections;
  • child care;
  • schools, including charter schools, state schools and higher education;
  • food service, including production, processing, preparation, sale and delivery;
  • retail, including sales, fulfillment, distribution and delivery;
  • temporary shelters and hotels;
  • building services, including maintenance, janitorial and security;
  • public transit;
  • ground and air transportation services;
  • manufacturing; and
  • vocational rehabilitation.

For more information, visit dlm.mn.gov/toolkit or frontlinepay.mn.gov.

Jennifer Kotila is a reporter for West Central Tribune of Willmar, Minnesota. She focuses on local government, specifically the City of Willmar, and business.

She can be reached via email at: jkotila@wctrib.com or phone at 320-214-4339.
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