The portal is up and running so you can now resume the application process. Just a reminder that applications are date/time stamped ONLY AFTER you submit the completed application. Any additional questions can be directed to businesshelpCOVID19@nd.gov. We are #InThisTogetherND!
The North Dakota Department of Commerce is proud to make the Economic Resiliency Grant available to private companies operating in North Dakota for costs associated with improvements to their businesses for the purpose of reducing the spread of infection, and instilling consumer confidence in the marketplace. To clarify, this is a grant, and not a loan. Grants will be awarded at up to $50,000 per eligible business and up to $100,000 per eligible business with multiple locations.
North Dakota’s economy had a significant impact caused by a declining agriculture economy, a drastic reduction in oil prices beginning in the early spring, and on its heels, a global pandemic, hitting North Dakota in mid-March.
May’s unemployment rate (most recent available) was 8.6 % (not seasonally adjusted), down from 9.2% in April, which is the 4th lowest in the nation, and we are seeing other positive trends:
- ND was named among the “top 10 job markets to have weathered the pandemic” by Moneyrates.com in June.
- As of June 27, ND had a total of 33,645 continued unemployment claims which is a 25% reduction from the prior week ending June 20.
- Consumer confidence in our region, as measured by the June 2020 Consumer Confidence Survey, shows a moderate increase in June, but still is well below pre-pandemic levels.
The people of North Dakota are resilient, intelligent and committed to their communities.
The federal government has made billions of dollars available through the CARES Act to individuals, small businesses, healthcare systems, and other important sectors of our economy to mitigate the impact of the pandemic, gaps continue to exist, including consumer reluctance to re-enter the marketplace.
Now we need consumers to repopulate the marketplace and give our businesses the revenue they need to thrive AND sustain employment.
We need to recapture the markets and consumers before the “temporary solutions” like staying home, shopping less, traveling less, dining out less, become the preferred solutions.
We need to restore consumer confidence and reinvigorate our economy while ensuring the health and safety of customers and employees.
The Economic Resiliency Grant (ERG) is an answer to this challenge.
The following is the timeline process of the grant:
- Round 1
- Applications opens - August 12, 2020 - 10:00 a.m. CDT
- Deadline August 28, 2020
- Awardees announced starting September 11, 2020
- Funds disbursed starting September 25, 2020
- Additional rounds will be available if funding is not exhausted by the above timeline.
In the application process, you will be required to make a number of certifications, including but not limited to:
- Being registered to do business in ND, having one or more permanent physical locations in ND, and having been financially solvent prior to March, and having been negatively financially impacted by COVID-19.
- That you will use the money for approved expenses only, and return the difference, if applicable.
North Dakota businesses may be eligible to receive funding for costs associated with improvements to their businesses for the purpose of reducing the spread of infection, and instilling consumer confidence in the marketplace.
The focus of this grant is on the marketplace, therefore production agriculture is not eligible to apply.
Due to the compressed timeline for this program, there is no dispute of denial process. There will be no opportunity for appeals. Businesses can reapply 30 days from the denial notification.
- Private companies are eligible. Ownership type – such as sole proprietor, partnership, corporation, non-profit - is not the determining factor.
- The business must be licensed to do business in North Dakota, either by the Secretary of state or a tribal licensing authority. The business must also have a permanent physical location in North Dakota.
- The investment proposed to be made must decrease the spread of infection, and this will have to be clearly articulated in the application.
- If you have already made qualified improvements (after March 27) these expenditures may be reimbursed through the grant. Whether the improvement has been already made, or you will be submitting a proposal for future improvements, take care to keep VERY detailed documentation as there will be an audit of your expenses post-award. Best practice would be to keep the grant award accounted for separately, track expenses, and ensure they are clearly aligned to your proposal.
- MARKETPLACE - applicants must demonstrate how they directly interface with consumers or how the improvements directly benefit consumers through supply chain impacts.
- Non-profits can apply as long as they have at least one physical address in North Dakota open to customers and do not use funds towards lobbying activities.
- Businesses with no live customer interaction (not including manufacturers)
- At-home businesses
- Companies that are able to relocate employees to remote workplaces and maintain productivity
- Governmental, Regulatory, and Public Administrative Entities
- Lobbying organizations
While eligibility for this grant is quite broad, remembering that the spirit and intent of this grant is to inspire consumer confidence to return to the marketplace, GENERALLY, there must be both consumers and a marketplace.
- Companies that are able to relocate employees to remote workplaces and maintain productivity will typically be ineligible. (Offices without customer walk-ins)
- Personal or private residential improvements are ineligible (home based businesses may still have eligible purchases if they are childcare facilities or agriculture-based)
- Government entities such as universities, K12 systems, are ineligible. Other government-funded businesses may be ineligible, but not “categorically ineligible”, as we recognize that there are instances where, for example, a city may own a liquor store, a daycare or a grocery store. Those entities will NOT be ineligible because it is owned by a city because it otherwise meets the definition of a business that provides goods or services to consumers in the marketplace which is consistent with the spirit of this grant.
- Any cost related to lobbying activities are ineligible (costs related to improving safety at a street fair hosted by a 501(c)(6) would be eligible.
ELIGIBLE AND INELIGIBLE EXPENSES
Eligible Expenses - Direct investment to reduce the spread of infection
Investments are to be made to reduce the spread of infection. These must be DIRECT investments.
Purchases made on or after March 27, 2020, can be submitted with receipts from the purchases and receive reimbursement. Bids/estimates/quotes are also allowed and will be reimbursed, however, documentation is required that the funds be spent within 45 days.
Examples of direct investments include:
- Investments that reduce repetitive touch, such as:
- Touchless payment systems or document signing systems
- Automatic faucets, toilets and door kicks
- Technology to manage take-out, or drive-through orders
- Improvements that creates distance between customers or customers and employees
- Expanded outdoor dining
- Partitions between workers who cannot be socially distanced
- Purchases of items that directly controls infection, such as:
- UV sanitizers
- Temperature checking equipment
These are just examples. YOU are the closest to your business and to your customer and we expect that you will have the most impactful solutions.
Reminder, impact must be DIRECT. Examples of ineligible expenses for lack of ‘directness’ include:
- Marketing and advertising costs (costs associated with spending grant money or advertising improvements)
- Taxes CANNOT be included in the application. Sales taxes are the applicants cost.
Also, this grant is not intended for:
- Payroll costs, Refinancing debt, operating costs, and all other expenses not related to COVID-19 safety measures are ineligible – If you need funds for these types of expenses and have not already applied for the Paycheck Protection Program, that deadline has been extended until August 8th.
POST AWARD OBLIGATIONS
- Use funds as proposed within 45 days from the date in which the grant was approved
- Submit documentation to support expenditures (or return funds)
- NDSmart Restart webpage “badge” and materials
- Self-Certification of compliance with NDSmart Restart Protocol
- Time is of the essence in implementing safety mechanisms to reduce the spread of infection to allow customers to return to the marketplace safely.
- Expected to use the grant money within 45 days of receipt in a manner consistent with your proposal – or return it promptly.
- Keep copious documentation – your award will be audited to ensure funds were used for approved expenses.
- If you receive the ERG and make the safety improvements, you will receive access to NDSmart Restart badge for your website and other materials to highlight your investments for your customers to assist you in highlighting your ERG improvements. The investments are important, but AS important are that your customers know of them – THAT is what will inspire consumer confidence.
Economic Resiliency Grant (ERG) and application process
Business Briefing July 9, 2020
PURPOSE - What is it?
Who is eligible (what business types)?
Criteria (eligible/not eligible investments)
How to apply
Your obligation post-award
Dr. Andy Stahl will also address employer testing details for business owners.