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Over 100 Freeborn County businesses awarded relief grants through local program

Over 100 Freeborn County businesses received funding through the local COVID-19 grant relief program set up to assist businesses adversely affected by COVID-19.

The grant program, made through a partnership with Freeborn County, the city of Albert Lea and the Albert Lea Economic Development Agency, gave out $870,000, according to a press release.

“We were very happy to be able to help bring this program together and to award businesses with grants to help sustain their business through these trying times,” said ALEDA Executive Director Phillip Johnson. “While we realize that the struggle due to COVID-19 is not over yet, we hope that these grants keep our businesses going as they learn to adapt to changes and new expectations from both state government and customers.”

Over 130 businesses applied for funding, and of those businesses, 96% received a grant. All businesses that qualified under the requirements received funding, and only those that did not qualify did not receive a grant.

Grant totals ranged from $4,500 to $28,500, and amounts were based on how many employees the business had as of March 1. Businesses had to have 35 or less employees and had seen at least a 20% reduction in revenue due to COVID-19.

Businesses who receive a grant must spend it on eligible expenses, including mortgage or rent payments, payroll for new or existing employees and operating expenses, among others.

The relief fund was initially set up in June with $450,000 from the three agencies, but in July was boosted with additional money through CARES Act dollars given to Freeborn County. The Albert Lea City Council also approved an additional allocation of $76,600 at its Monday meeting to cover all of the grant requests.