St. Louis County urges restaurant, bar owners to apply for federal relief grants

The federal government will manage $ 28.6 billion in grants nationwide available under the American Rescue Plan Act – money that small business owners believe can be used.

“This is fantastic news for the food and beverage industry across St. Louis County,” said Matthew Johnson, director of planning and community development, during a St. Louis County Board workshop this week. “It’s important for our food and beverage industry to be aware of this possibility, and more importantly, to make sure they apply.”

The Federal Administration for Small Businesses awards grants as part of the restaurant revitalization program.

Unlike previous rounds of funding to cover costs associated with COVID-19 improvements or payroll, the new funding is not subject to such restrictions. The grants range from $ 1,000 to $ 5 million, depending on the size.

The formula used when applying for funds is simple for established businesses: owners subtract 2020 gross receipts minus all previous forms of rescue funds from 2019 gross receipts.

“It’s a significant amount of money,” said Johnson.

While this is a federal program, the county has a team of eight employees who are fully trained in the program to assist local business owners with applying for funding.

The county will host two virtual briefing sessions to provide information and answer questions about the program. The meetings take place on Friday at 11 a.m. and on Wednesday at 6 p.m. Links to attend the meeting can be found on the county COVID-19 corporate resources page:

Mike Jugovich

Mike Jugovich

“The restaurants and bars in our county have faced tremendous challenges during this pandemic and we urge them to apply for one of these grants,” said Mike Jugovich, chairman of the county board, in a press release. “While the county does not have a say in the distribution of these funds, the priority has been given to our staff on the program guidelines so that we can be a resource for the business owners to help them through the application process.”

A total of 1,350 St. Louis County companies have gained access to past COVID-19 relief efforts – many of which were bars and restaurants that had to close during periods of high virus transmission.

The funds must be used by March 11, 2023 at the latest. The full guidelines can be found at

Johnson also reported during the county board workshop earlier this week that the administration continues to learn about the 54.3 million Rescue Act funds that enable economic development, capital projects and transit funds.

“We’re still learning more about this opportunity,” said Johnson.

The city of Duluth will receive $ 60 million.

“It makes sense not to overlap our spending, but hopefully we can complement each other to get the most out of the funds,” Johnson told the commissioners.

Eventually, the county will have access to $ 377 billion in Federal Rescue Bill funds aimed at improving broadband service and connecting to underserved areas.

At a workshop in March, Commissioners pledged to provide better internet access to rural areas after seeing firsthand how these places were hardest hit in times of distance learning in schools and work-from-home scenarios during the remote pandemic were.

Johnson said the county’s approach will be to be able to apply early and frequently once processes are in place.

“I see our role as helping projects cross the finish line,” said Johnson.

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