A third round of revenue replacement grants is in progress for local businesses affected by COVID-19, council member Tom Conway told Park Rapids City Council on Tuesday.

Conway acknowledged Kathy Henry’s hard work to assist the city and Hubbard County with their COVID-19 Business Assistance Program.

In the first two rounds of grants, he said, 24 businesses – 18 of them in Park Rapids – were awarded grants totaling approximately $835,844, Conway said. Funds were also given to businesses in Akeley and Nevis and the townships of Henrietta, Todd, Fern and Lake Alice.

Phase 3 began Oct. 6 he said, and applications will close on Oct. 22.

“I am pleading that if you own a business in Hubbard County and you have not applied for these grants, please apply,” said Conway, noting that more than half of the COVID relief funds allocated to Hubbard County remain and any unspent balance as of Nov. 15 must be paid back.

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“If you own a business that has suffered a loss of revenue because of COVID-19, we need to get the applications to Heartland Lakes Development Commission,” he said.

Mayor Ryan Leckner advised business owners wondering how to apply to talk to their local bank. “There’s a lot of people willing to help them get through this, if it looks intimidating to fill out the paperwork,” he said.

Conway said Henry, Julie Kjenaas at the HLDC, and staff at every bank in the county are ready to advise business owners about their eligibility and help them through the application process.

Council member Liz Stone said she has heard two business owners say they didn’t apply for the grant because they didn’t think they would qualify.

Conway said the criteria to qualify for the aid have been eased since Phase 1, such as asking for a verification rather than a state certificate of good standing, lowering the revenue loss requirement from 30 to 20 percent, and offering to pay not 50 but 100 percent of a loss up to $20,000.

“I don’t think it’s too daunting,” Conway said. “There’s got to be businesses out there that haven’t applied and sure could use it.”

Server upgrades

The city council accepted a $36,871 bid from Techcheck of Sartell, Minn. to replace the computer server and backup system at city hall.

The purchase is to be made using CARES Act funds, since the upgrade will allow city staff to work from home if needed due to COVID-19 work restrictions.

Based on a federal appropriation to pay expenses caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, CARES Act monies must be spent by Nov. 15.

Interim city administrator Betty Thomsen said that Deb Freund with Northwoods Computer Service sought bids from two other companies, Microtech Computer Center of Park Rapids and Bytespeed of Moorhead, but only Techcheck responded with an estimate based on this short timeline.

Council member Erika Randall moved to accept the Techcheck bid, and the motion passed unanimously.