“We had two components we submitted, one for this renovation and one for a potential new construction expanding business,” HLDC Executive Director Mary Thompson said.

“DEED felt the expanding business part was not a good fit for this particular program. We asked for $250,000 for the Main Street program and were awarded $208,000, so I’m very happy about that. There were only eight organizations in Minnesota that received funding, so I believe it was very competitive and we were one of the few funded in the state.”

Brick-and-mortar funds

Thompson said the program will provide 30 percent of grant funding to help businesses within Park Rapids city limits renovate or expand.

This grant is for brick-and-mortar projects. Uses could include repairs, renovation, construction, demolition as well as design or architect or engineering work.

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Thompson said Citizens Bank, TruStar, Northwoods Bank, Northview Bank and Midwest Minnesota Community Development Corporation in Detroit Lakes have gotten together to develop a loan program with favorable terms businesses can access for the 70 percent matching funds required.

“We haven’t received the grant agreement yet,” she said. “We need that before we roll out the program details and requirements. We expect to be able to start accepting applications in November, with funds being awarded in late November or early December.”

Applications will be available online or by calling the HLDC office at 218-732-2256.

“We’ll also have them at each of the lenders,” she said.

Thompson said she knows of three downtown businesses that have changed ownership and are in some level of renovation right now and could potentially benefit from the project.

“There is the green building that used to be the original Enterprise, the Fitness Center building and the building that is located next to Glik’s,” she said. “This pool of money could potentially help give that little bit extra that businesses need.”

The HLDC is in the process of renovating the city's old municipal liquor store building to be their new office and an entrepreneur workspace.

COVID recovery

The project will also provide grants to businesses in the commercial districts of Park Rapids to support economic recovery from the impacts of COVID-19.

“A business owner may want to do some things to space out people a little bit more, or they may want to do things to prevent having to shut down if there were limits to the number of people who would be able to access the location,” she said.

“The intent is to help businesses that want to make revisions so they can create a better way of staying open, should we ever get shut down again. Maybe they need to add more glass partitions, or a restaurant may want to add a takeout window. Or maybe they want to make it safer for workers.”

Small business grants

The HLDC also applied for funding for small business grants through DEED, totaling $100,000. Any business in Hubbard County would be eligible to apply for that funding, which is designed to provide technical assistance and business development. The grants may also be used to provide resources, training and technical assistance through HLDC.

“We’re still waiting to hear about that one,” Thompson said.