ST. PAUL — The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) has announced that the Minnesota Small Business Relief Grants Program, which was approved by the Minnesota Legislature last week and signed by Gov. Tim Walz, is now accepting applications.

This program will provide $10,000 grants to small businesses that have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Businesses with 50 or fewer full-time employees are eligible. Half of the funding will go to businesses in Greater Minnesota and half to businesses in the seven-county Twin Cities metro area, as required by law.

Additional requirements include: $18 million for businesses with six or fewer full-time employees; $10 million for minority business enterprises; $2.5 million for veteran-owned businesses; $2.5 million for women-owned businesses; and $2.5 million for operators of indoor retail and food markets with an ethnic cultural emphasis

The application period began Tuesday and closes at 5 p.m. July 2 to fulfill the 10-day period required by the law. A randomized, computer-generated lottery process will be used to select eligible businesses that will receive awards. All awards will be administered by qualified local and regionally based nonprofit agencies, and the grant funds can be used for working capital to support payroll expenses, rent, mortgage payments, utility bills and other similar business expenses.

DEED staff are hosting several online webinars on the new Small Business Relief Grants. These webinars will help explain to business leaders how to apply for the grants. Times are: 3 to 4 p.m. Wednesday; 7 to 8 p.m. Thursday; 4 to 5 p.m. Friday; 10 to 11 a.m. Saturday; 3 to 4 p.m. Sunday; 10 to 11 a.m. Monday; and 7 to 8 p.m. Tuesday (June 30). Register here.

To be eligible, businesses must have a permanent physical location in Minnesota and be majority owned by a permanent resident of Minnesota. Businesses must be able to demonstrate hardship as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak. Additional eligibility requirements and application information can be found online at DEED’s Small Business Relief Grants page.