Winter months are a concern for ND businesses as they try to protect customers amid a pandemic

Downtown Fargo
Downtown Fargo(KVLY)
Published: Sep. 11, 2020 at 1:32 PM CDT
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FARGO, N.D. (Valley News Live) - The North Dakota Department of Commerce is expressing concern for the winter months and the impact it will have on businesses during a pandemic where people are encouraged to social distance.

The agency received nearly $100 million worth of requests from small businesses applying for its Economic Resiliency Grant, according to Director of Economic Development and Finance Division Dr. James Leiman.

But, only $65 million is available for applicants for funds that came from the CARES Act.

“We took a hard look at how companies across the state were impacted by [COVID-19]. Where their biggest pain points were with respect to revenue and that’s how this grant was formed,” Leiman said. “It was formed based on the business communities desire to grow their revenue.”

So far the department of commerce has given out $10 million to grant applicants as it continues sifting through applications.

Up to $50,000 is being distributed to businesses to help them generate revenue, but a real concern is the winter months.

“We’re going into the colder months and companies across the spectrum from restaurants to hotels to retail establishments to manufacturers need to make the requisite adjustments to their business models,” Leiman said.

He added that the grant could help small businesses buy personal protective equipment to welcome people indoors.

“One they can invite customers back into a safer environment to reduce the spread of covid but also two, inspire consumers with confidence that ‘hey, you can come shop at my company. You can come eat at my restaurant, even though it’s colder, we’ve invested some of this money,’” he said.

While the deadline for the Economic Resiliency Grant expired two weeks ago, the department of commerce is hoping for another round of grants.

Leiman said the agency will have to work with the legislature on getting some more funds.

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