202 businesses are being helped by Olmsted County grant program

Federal funds used for county effort to help local businesses and nonprofits are being released.

Olmsted County logo
Olmsted County logo

Local businesses have claimed approximately 80 percent of the $4 million in grants Olmsted County made available last month.

“By next week checks will be out the door to those businesses,” said Wilfredo Román Cátala, the county’s chief financial officer.

Of 308 applications for grants, 202 businesses were selected to receive funds from a portion of the $19.1 million in federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act funds provided to the county.

The total amount being awarded is nearly $3.2 million, but nearly a dozen applications remain under review by Rochester Area Economic Development Inc., which is administering the grant program.


Román Cátala said the program is reaching businesses targeted by county commissioners when they set aside the funds to provide economic relief amid the coronavirus pandemic.

“The pandemic has caused tremendous strain on small businesses and nonprofits – both of which play an important role in providing our county’s residents with the goods and services they need,” he said. “Our hope is that with this grant money, these organizations can recoup some of their losses and recover from the hardships they’ve experienced during this public health crisis.”

Of the grant recipients, the median net revenue loss in the first four months of the pandemic was $35,000, and the grants will provide up to $25,000 in support.

Eighty of the applicants are expected to receive the maximum grant amount.

Of the 202 recipients, 138 of the businesses have the equivalent of six or fewer full-time employees. Commissioners emphasized the need to help the county’s smallest businesses.

Additionally, the county sought to reach businesses owned by women, minorities and veterans.

Of the recipients, 87 percent of the businesses are owned by women; 40 are majority owned by racial or ethnic minorities, and 10 are majority owned by veterans.


In addition to the $4 million set aside for small businesses, the county earmarked another $1 million to help local nonprofit organizations providing needed services amid the pandemic.

Rochester Area Foundation is overseeing the program set to award $656,000 to the agencies that saw a median net income revenue loss of $39,000 in the first months of the pandemic, related to the prior year. Thirty-nine agencies are receiving grants.

Of the recipients, 18 nonprofits will receive the full amount of $25,000, with 20 agencies having the equivalent of six or fewer full-time employees.

Twenty-nine of the nonprofits provide specific services to low- to moderate-income individuals and families in the county. Other organizations target underserved or marginalized populations in the county.

Román Cátala said the nearly $1.15 million remaining from the two grant programs will be held in reserve.

“My recommendation is to wait a few weeks to see how things evolve and what things happen,” he said, adding that the county commissioners will determine how to use the funds at a later date.

The county has until Dec. 1 to spend the provided CARES Act funding before it needs to be returned to the state and potentially be sent back to the federal government.

Randy Petersen joined the Post Bulletin in 2014 and became the local government reporter in 2017. An Elkton native, he's worked for a variety of Midwest papers as reporter, photographer and editor since graduating from Winona State University in 1996. Readers can reach Randy at 507-285-7709 or
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