COVID-19 INFORMATION & RESOURCES
ERACC has received many questions regarding the impact of COVID-19 on local businesses.
In this time of uncertainty, we'd like to assure you that ERACC will be here to support you through this crisis.
We are working closely with many statewide organizations, including other chambers of commerce, to provide you with up to date resources and information.
This page will be updated as new information becomes available.
Essential Business Information
Click here for a comprehensive list of Critical Sectors, along with clarifications that have been added since the Executive Order was issued.
*List is updated regularly, so be sure to check back often.
Click here to read the memo from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security regarding critical infrastructure workers.
The Minnesota Chamber Foundation launched an economic dashboard, aimed at providing real-time updates on Minnesota’s economy as the state begins to recover from the shock of COVID-19. This online portal offers indicators and analysis of employment and income, business recovery, and consumer and business spending.
Click here to learn more about the data and what they say about a potential economic recovery in Minnesota.
Below is a list of relief options including loans, grants, and tax deferments. Here you will also find resources to help you understand the different funding options available to you. We will be updating this section as new resources become available.
Elk River & Sherburne County Funding Programs
Sherburne County has extended its Business Relief Fund to provide temporary support to local small businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Commissioners voted to extend the Business Relief Fund, to modify and extend the Non-Profit Organization Community Resource Grant program and to establish a third program. The new program provides rent and mortgage payment assistance to non-profit agencies and businesses that do not qualify for the Business Relief Fund or Non-Profit Organization Community Resource Grant programs.
The Business Relief Fund provides grants of up to $30,000 to qualifying Sherburne County businesses with up to 50 full-time equivalent employees that can demonstrate that their business was directly and adversely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Business Relief Fund application can be found here.
The Non-Profit Organization Community Resource Grant program provides support to community organizations that help provide housing services, food, childcare programs, employment opportunities, and access to social and health services.
The Non-Profit Organization Community Resource Grant program application can be found here.
- A loan up to $20,000
- Property Tax Relief up to $5,000
The Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) provides working capital up to $2 million to small businesses impacted by COVID-19.
The SBA is offering up to $25,000 for businesses that currently have a relationship with an SBA Express Lender.
This program will provide cash-flow assistance through guaranteed loans to employers who maintain their payroll during this emergency. If maintained, loans would be forgiven. Loans are provided through an approved SBA Lender; contact your bank to apply.
PPP Fact Sheet (Updated April 7th, 2020)
PPP Loan Forgiveness (Updated May 20, 2020)
This DEED program provides interest-free loans ranging from $5,000 to $35,000 to small businesses impacted by the pandemic.
DEED Unemployment Insurance Information
DEED's Unemployment Insurance (UI) program assists workers who can't work, have their hours reduced or lose their jobs due to the pandemic.
- MN Unemployment Insurance Benefit Information
- Information and Resources for MN Workers
- Information and Resources for Employers
Expanded Unemployment Benefits Guidance
The U.S. Department of Labor has issued guidance to help states implement expanded unemployment benefits under the CARES Act.
- Guidance on implementing the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program
- Guidance on Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation
The U.S. Department of Labor has issued preliminary guidance for employers and employees implementing the new paid leave provisions of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act.
As a reminder, all employers with 500 or fewer employees must implement these new federally reimbursed paid leave programs by April 1.
The US Internal Revenue Service has also issued preliminary guidance on reimbursement for these programs.
Facebook is offering $100M in cash grants and ad credits for up to 30,000 eligible small businesses. The program is expected to begin taking applications in the coming weeks, so be sure to sign up for updates at the page listed below. ERACC will provide more information as it becomes available.
The CARES Act was passed by Congress and signed into law last week. The bill provides relief through modifying the SBA's Economic Injury Disaster Loan program (EIDL), expanding unemployment insurance funding, creating a new Paycheck Protection loan to encourage employers to keep employees on payroll, direct cash payments for individuals, and more.
This document provides businesses with an easy to understand explanation of what they need to do to apply for forgiveness of their PPP loans.
The team at Coast with the help of the Austin Chamber, Boulder Chamber, Tahoe Chamber, Berkeley Chamber, and the Kirkland Chamber created a PPP loan forgiveness calculator to easily calculate how much of the PPP loan will be forgiven.
Below are resources to guide you through the process of reopening for business in accordance with the Governor's Executive Order 20-40. We will be updating this section as new Executive Orders are released and resources become available.
To help business owners navigate the reopening and recovery process, ERACC has put together a free Back to Business Toolkit. The toolkit includes:
- Guidance on updating policies
- How to plan for a safe reopening
- A sample of a reopening plan
- Digital marketing checklists
- Printable signage
- Helpful links
Check out this page for industry-specific guidance and resources related to safely reopening for business.
Outdoor dining beginning June 1: Answers to commonly asked questions
We know that there are many questions from businesses and customers about how that process will work. Please see below the answers to questions we've been hearing about Executive Order 20-63.
What establishments can be open for outdoor food and alcohol sales?
Restaurants, food courts, cafes, coffeehouses, bars, taverns, brewer taprooms, micro distiller cocktail rooms, farm wineries, craft wineries, cideries, and golf courses may be open for outdoor service with the following requirements:
- Adopt and implement a COVID-19 Preparedness Plan
- Ensure a minimum of 6 feet of distance between tables
- Limit on-premises capacity to no more than 50 persons
- Limit table service to 4 persons, or 6 if part of one family unit
- Require reservations in advance
- Require workers to wear masks and strongly encourage masks be worn by customers
Are restaurants and bars still allowed to be sell wine and beer curbside/to-go after June 1?
Yes, to-go sales of wine and beer are still permitted.
Are customers allowed to use the restrooms while dining outdoors?
Yes, customers can go indoors to use the restroom. Social distancing protocols must still be followed and people should avoid congregating indoors to wait for a restroom.
Are customers allowed to go indoors to access an outdoor space, such as a rooftop patio?
Yes, customers can go indoors if necessary to access an establishment's outdoor space. Social distancing protocols must still be followed and people should avoid congregating indoors.
What about inclement or severe weather? Can customers go indoors then?
Yes, the underlying goal of all guidelines and requirements is to keep people safe and save lives. In the event of inclement weather, customers may move indoors to package food and pay bills but must exit quickly – businesses should not allow customers to move indoors to continue their meal. While indoors, customers must follow social distancing rules and avoid congregating. Nothing in Executive Order 20-63 prohibits indoor sheltering in the event of severe weather.
Can restaurants set up tents to offer dining in a screened-in or covered setting outdoors?
Yes, as long as at least half of the sides of the tent are open or screened.
What about fast-casual restaurants or cafes? Do they have to take reservations?
These establishments should plan to take on-site reservations for people who sit down at outdoor tables to eat or drink products they buy on site. They must also ensure that tables are 6 feet apart and that customers are not standing and waiting for tables to open.
Why a 50 person maximum, instead of deciding on a percentage of total capacity?
Setting a percentage for capacity of outdoor spaces presents a number of additional challenges because it isn't as clearly determined as indoor spaces – and, in coordination with municipal governments, some establishments may create new outdoor spaces that were not previously used for dining. A cap on the total number of people is more consistent with limiting the amount of people any person might come into contact with for extended periods of time.
Does the 50 person maximum include employees?
No. An establishment is limited to a maximum of 50 customers on the premises at any one point, not including employees.
Are restaurants required to keep a log of reservations?
No, restaurants are not required to keep a log, nor are they discouraged from doing so. There is no requirement that a business check an ID or verify a person's identify with their reservation.
What if a restaurant doesn't have a patio or outdoor space? Can they use a parking lot or create a new outdoor space beginning on June 1?
Establishments will need to work directly with their local governments on permitting for spaces not typically designated for outdoor dining. Executive Order 20-63 encourages local governments to work collaboratively with establishments on this process.
For local governments interested in using right of way on state highways for food and beverage service, the Minnesota Department of Transportation is working on a permitting process for cities and townships and will provide more information soon.
Can restaurants combine seating areas, or close down a street to make a communal dining area?
Spaces should be clearly defined and marked for each restaurant and contiguous to the establishment.
Can a restaurant inside a mall reopen?
At this time, only restaurants with existing or newly-permitted outdoor space (in coordination with their local government) can reopen. A restaurant, food court or other communal dining area that is fully enclosed within another setting such as a mall cannot reopen at this time for indoor dining.
Does a restaurant that has been operating as takeout-only need to develop a COVID-19 Preparedness Plan if they choose not to offer onsite outdoor dining?
Businesses that were included on the Critical Sector list are required to comply with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) COVID-19 guidelines and OSHA standards, but they are not at this time required to have a written COVID-19 Preparedness Plan.
Why can't restaurants open for indoor dining, but other places such as retail and salons can be open for indoor services and sales?
Based on what we know at this point about COVID-19, some of the key factors that determine transmission risk of the virus include: how close you are to other people, how long you are in close proximity to another person, and how predictable the setting is regarding the ability to maintain social distancing. People eating and drinking indoors for extended periods of time in confined air spaces put customers and workers at an increased risk.
Certain establishments, such as hair salons or tattoo parlors, are more conducive to requiring customers and workers to wear masks at all times – and paired with strict occupancy capacities, those establishments present a more predictable environment and less direct interaction with other people.
Other retail environments, with strict occupancy capacities and social distancing protocols, can effectively minimize the number of people who might come into contact with others for extended periods of time.
When will restaurants be able to reopen for indoor dining?
Phase 3 of Minnesota's Stay Safe Plan will include some capacity for indoor dining. A date has not yet been set for when Phase 3 will begin.
Retailers across Minnesota are implementing impressive measures to make shopping as safe as possible for customers & employees. To assist retailers, the MN Retailers Association has put together a collection of social distancing best practices.
- Best practices for returning to work
- Industrial settings such as manufacturing, printing, etc.
- Customer-facing environments like hospitality and retail
- Office environments
Based on the best practices shared by employers in these critical industries, the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce provides the following guidelines and suggestions to assist other Minnesota businesses in their efforts to provide safe workplaces for their employees and customers as they come back online.
The starting place for all industries is the comprehensive federal guidance provided by the Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
From OSHA: Guidance on Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19
From the CDC:
Interim Guidance for Businesses and Employers to Plan and Respond to Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)
Executive Order 20-48 issued by Gov. Tim Walz on April 30, 2020, requires each business in operation during the
peacetime emergency establish a COVID-19 Preparedness Plan.
Use this template to create a COVID-19 Preparedness Plan as dictated by Executive Order 20-48.
Use this poster to tell your customers what precautions you're taking to keep them and your employees safe.
In this article from McKinsey & Company, learn how care, creative thinking, and new tools can address customers’ acute needs today and forge stronger ties in the post-COVID-19 era.
Whether they have remained open throughout the COVID-19 outbreak, or they are now preparing to open their doors once again, businesses throughout Minnesota are adjusting their practices and workspaces to mitigate health risks and boost consumer confidence. Your chamber in partnership with the Grow Minnesota! Partnership team at the Minnesota Chamber is here to help your business.
Our knowledge and experience can work to understand your business challenges. We will find answers to your questions, connect you with other businesses and critical resources, navigate the MN Supplier Match database and help you prepare a “return to work” plan.
The Grow! team at the MN Chamber of Commerce developed this checklist based on feedback from hundreds of companies who have developed or executed “return to work” plans for their business.
COVID-19 has disrupted supply chains around the world, but there are suppliers all over the state that can provide accessibility, short lead-times, shared networks, and trusted quality. The MN Chamber's Grow! Minnesota Partnership program provides a database for for all businesses seeking connections to MN's robust supply chain, many of whom have pivoted their production and supply lines to include PPEs and Sanitation supplies. Now open to ALL businesses without condition
Free database access to any business during COVID-19
Email email@example.com to receive login credentials
Any Minnesota B2B business - 60 searchable categories
There is a current need for high priority suppliers (e.g. suppliers of key PPE, cleaning supplies, etc.)
Registration form: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/supplier-match
Below are resources to assist you during the recovery process, which includes marketing, employee engagement, best practices, and customer re-aquistition.
HubSpot Academy contains free courses and training that can be taken at your own pace. Topics include content marketing, email marketing, inbound marketing, digital marketing/ads, etc.
- SCORE provides confidential business advice through our network of 10,000 volunteer business experts.
- Since SCORE is a nonprofit resource partner of the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), our mentoring services are free, regardless of the number of times you visit a mentor.
- You can meet with one or several mentors via email, video chat or face-to-face in your local chapter.
- Our mentors are experienced in all aspects and stages of business development, whether you’re thinking of starting a business or growing your existing company.
If you're looking for ways to improve your customer acquisition, you're not alone. Reducing the costs of customer acquisition and proving the ROI of marketing efforts are two of the most commonly cited marketing priorities among companies.
In this guide, you’ll learn the basics of customer acquisition, how to lower the cost of acquiring new customers, and how to leverage your loyal ones. By the end, you’ll be able to build an acquisition strategy so agile, it’ll withstand the test of time and ever-changing trends.
In this article from McKinsey & Company, learn how care, creative thinking, and new tools can address customers’ acute needs today and forge stronger ties in the post-COVID-19 era.
Get the latest resources and information on best practices from the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce here.
The U.S. Chamber has compiled CDC’s coronavirus recommendations for businesses and workers across the country. Click here to find a sharable graphics based on the CDC’s latest guidance for businesses and employees as well as our small business guide.
Communication is a key component to getting through the uncertainty we are currently experiencing in our world. If you are having difficulties paying your utility bill, please let Elk River Municipal Utilities know. ERMU wants to support our local business community and will work with those experiencing a hardship to establish a mutually agreed-upon payment plan.
To speak to a customer service representative about your account, please contact Elk River Municipal Utilities at 763.441.2020.
Get the latest information and resources from the MN Department of Labor regarding COVID-19 here.