C.A.R.E.S FAQ

When and how do I apply?

Online applications are being accepted beginning on August 17, 2020 and will be closed on September 7th, 2020, at midnight.  Apply by going to ClayCountyMN.gov/COVID-Relief.

Can I send in a paper or email application?

No. Due to the large volume of applications, we can only accept applications submitted through the online form.

I started my application but didn’t complete it and left the website before clicking submit. Can I go back and start where I left off?

No. You will need to complete and submit the application in one session.

I completed the application and submitted it, but I either made a mistake or I need to update it. Can I go back and change my information?

Unfortunately, you are not able to go back and change your application. However, you can submit another application and your previous application will be disregarded.

I accidentally submitted more than one application. Will I be disqualified?

No. You will not be disqualified, but the last application you submitted will be the only application reviewed. Any applications you submitted prior to the last one you submitted will be disregarded.

Does it matter when I submit my application?

You must submit by the deadline of Monday, September 7th, 2020 at midnight.  This is not a first-come, first served program. It, however, is advisable not to wait until the last minute. The system is designed to handle a high number of applications at one time, but there is a limit on how many it can handle.

I need the application translated into another language. Where can I get help?

The application form has translation capabilities.  At the very top, select the language desired.

Who is selecting Eligible Businesses/Candidates for Relief? How will selections be made?

Selection panels made up of local government officials will review all qualified applications and all businesses that meet the qualifying criteria will be provided aid.

Are nonprofit organizations eligible for this program?

Yes. Eligible organizations include those incorporated as 501c3 or 501c19.

Are cooperatives eligible for this program?

If cooperatives are structured to generate and distribute profits for the benefit of members or owners, they are eligible for this program.

My business leases space within the permanent physical location of another business (for example, a chair in a barbershop or a store within a mall, etc.). Is this considered a permanent physical location?

Yes.

I am a resident of another state, but my business has a permanent physical location in Clay County. Is my business eligible for this program?

 Yes.

I am a permanent resident of Clay County, but my business has a permanent physical location outside of Clay County. Is my business eligible for this program?

No. Businesses are required to have permanent physical location in Clay County.

How do I know if I am in good standing? What does "in good standing" mean?

"In good standing" means that your business is current and active with any required business registrations with the Office of the Secretary of State and that no Minnesota tax liens have been filed against your business with the Minnesota Secretary of State.  

You can look up your registration. Please have your file number available when filling out the grant application.  Check your status here:  https://mblsportal.sos.state.mn.us/Business/Search

Note that, depending on your business structure, you may not be required to be registered with the Secretary of State. In that case, you will be deemed “in good standing” with the Minnesota Secretary of State. For example, if you are a sole proprietorship operating under your own name, you do not have to be registered with the state.   

Do I need to show that my business is “in good standing” when I apply for a grant?

For the purposes of the grant application, you only need to attest you do not have a Minnesota tax lien filed against your business and that, if required, your business registration with the Minnesota Secretary of State is current. If you are selected for an award, you may be required to provide additional information verifying the tax status of your business.  Check your status here:  https://mblsportal.sos.state.mn.us/Business/Search

I don’t know if I have a tax lien against my business. How do I find out?

You can visit the Office of the Secretary of State website to look for tax lien filings. Look up tax liens here:   https://www.sos.state.mn.us/business-liens/ucc-cns-tax-liens-help/how-to-search-tax-lien-filings/

My business is a home-based childcare provider. Do I need to be registered with the Secretary of State to be eligible for this program?

Not necessarily. If your business operates under your own name and not an assumed named or an LLC, S corporation or other business formation, you do not need to be registered with the Secretary of State. If you are not required to be registered, you will be considered "in good standing" with the Secretary of State for the purposes of this program.

How is financial hardship defined? What level of financial hardship must my business demonstrate to qualify for this program?

For the purpose of the grant, financial hardship can be determined either of two ways 1) your business experienced 10% revenue loss year-over-year between March 1 and July 31, 2019 vs. 2020, or 2) your business was restricted from operating above 50% capacity by executive orders in effect on May 18, 2020. Meeting either one of these conditions is sufficient to meet the criteria of experiencing financial hardship as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak.

I started my business after May 31, 2019. I am unable to compare revenues between March 1 and May 31 of last year and this year. Am I eligible for this program?

If your business was started after May 31, 2019 but was in operation on May 18, 2020 and your business was restricted from operating above 50% capacity by executive orders in effect on May 18, 2020, you are eligible for this program.

How is revenue defined? My business often doesn’t get paid for work until 2-3 months after we complete it.

For the purposes of this program, we can accept either accrual or cash basis accounting when calculating revenues over the relevant time period. Whatever method is used, it should be consistent between the two years being compared.

I am self-employed. I received – or am receiving – unemployment benefits through the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program. Am I ineligible for this program?

Not necessarily. Your business must meet all other eligibility requirements, including demonstrating financial hardship after factoring PUA benefits into your self-employment revenue.

Can my business receive more than one grant?

No. You can only receive one grant per business. 

I own or I am part-owner of multiple businesses that are at different locations. Can each of those business apply to receive a grant?

Yes. Businesses that are at two separate locations and are two distinct businesses are eligible to receive an award.

I own or I am part-owner of businesses that are co-located. Can each of those business apply to receive a grant?

Businesses that have the same owners and are at the same location are eligible to receive only one award.

I own a business with multiple locations. Can each of the locations be eligible to apply and receive a grant?

No.

Does my home-based business qualify as "permanent physical location?"

No. Home-based businesses are not considered eligible for the Clay County CARES Small Business COVID-19 Relief Grants Program – with the exception of home-based licensed childcare providers, which are eligible.  Please note that businesses that employee 2 or more people are eligible.

What is the definition of a home-based business?

According to IRS Publication 587 a home-based business is one that uses the owner’s home (or space within the home) as its principal place of business. That is:

  1. It is used regularly and exclusively for administration or management of a trade or business, and
  2. The owner has no other fixed location where the business carries on a substantial amount of administration or management.

I am self-employed and/or an independent contractor. Am I eligible for this program?

Yes, as long as your business has a permanent physical location and your business is not considered a home-based business (unless it is licensed family child care facility). Otherwise you are not eligible.

Besides myself, my business does not have any employees. Am I eligible for this program?

Yes.  Sole proprietors are eligible  as long as the business has a permanent physical location in Clay County and all other eligibility criteria apply.

My business has zero employees and/or hires independent contractors for some of its functions. Am I eligible for this program?

Yes.

My business only employs part-time employees. Am I disqualified from this program?

No.

My business employs more than 20 employees but they all are employed part-time. Am I disqualified from this program?

Not necessarily. This program is limited to businesses with 20 or less full-time equivalent employees (FTE). Please consult with a tax or accounting professional on how to calculate the number of full-time equivalent employees your business employs. 

I am self-employed or an independent contractor, but my work is performed at the permanent physical location of another business. Am I eligible for this program?

No. For the purposes of this program, your businesses does not have a permanent physical location (or the expenses related to a physical location) and is not eligible for this program.

My business is a home-based business that is a licensed childcare provider. Am I eligible for this program?

Yes. Licensed childcare businesses are exempted from the home-based business exclusion.  All other eligibility criteria apply.

What is the definition of "permanent physical location"?

Only businesses with a permanent physical location in Clay County are eligible for this program. For the purposes of this program, permanent physical location means a non-mobile permanent facility such as an office, warehouse, storefront or other facility where the business carries on a substantial amount of administration or management of their business.

Businesses that operate exclusively through a mobile operation, such as a mobile food stand, food truck, etc., are not considered as having a permanent physical location.

Facilities that are in the home, in a space within the home, or in a structure on the same property as the home of the business owner are considered a home-based business. Home-based businesses are ineligible for a grant from this program, except licensed child care providers.

For the purposes of this program, for-profit farming operations as defined by Internal Revenue Code 183 are not consider home-based businesses.

Are for-profit farming operations considered home-based businesses?

No.

My business is a for-profit farming operation. Am I eligible for this program?

No.

My business was restricted from operating at full capacity by executive order. How does this impact my chance of getting a grant?

If your business was restricted by executive orders to operating at 50% or less of normal capacity as determined by the fire marshal on May 18 you will qualify for an award. 

This includes the following categories of businesses:

  • Retail
  • Restaurants and bars
  • Personal services (salons, tattoos, barbershops)
  • Gyms, personal fitness and yoga studios, martial arts
  • Indoor events and entertainment
  • Outdoor events and entertainment (not including drive-in facilities)
  • Organized sports (adult and youth)
  • Campgrounds and charter boats
  • Pools

Please refer to staysafe.mn.gov for a helpful guide to businesses impacted by Executive Orders on May 18.

When will I know if I have been selected for a grant?

We are hoping to notify grant winners in mid-September. You will receive an email from Clay County notifying you of the award or if your application is determined ineligible.  Please note that official correspondence regarding this application will come from COVID.Relief@claycountymn.gov or noreply@seamlessdocs.com   

If I am awarded a grant, how will I get grant funds?

Once your application has been verified for eligibility, you will receive an email with further instructions and document(s) for your signature. Once we have the necessary documents back from you, the County Auditor’s Office will mail you a check.  

If I am not selected for a grant, will I be notified?

We will notify applicants via email regarding the status of their application. However, there may be a delay in notification due to application volume.  Please note that official correspondence regarding this application will come from COVID.Relief@claycountymn.gov or noreply@seamlessdocs.com

What documentation will I be asked to provide?

After you have been selected for an award, you may be asked by Clay County for documentation that verifies you are eligible to receive a grant. Some examples of documentation you may be asked to provide include – but are not limited to – the following: sales tax reporting, period statements from third-party sales platforms, merchant services statements, point of sale or register reports, third-party payroll processor reports, federal form 941/employer's quarterly federal tax return, or other state or federal payroll-related filings.

If I am selected, what kind of documents will I have to sign to get this grant money?

You will have to sign an affidavit certifying you are eligible to receive this grant and that the grant will be used for eligible uses only. We also need a signed W-9 form prior to releasing the funds.

What can the funds be used for?

Grant funds shall be used for working capital to support payroll expenses, rent, mortgage payments, utility bills, and other similar expenses that occur or have occurred since March 1, 2020, in the regular course of business. All uses must be exclusively for Clay County operations.

Can the funds be used to pay business-related insurance deductibles?

Yes.

Can the funds be used to repair my facility or equipment?

Yes.

Can the funds be used to purchase equipment?

No. Grant funds shall be used for working capital expenses that occur in the regular course of business. The purchase of equipment is not regarded as a working capital expense.

Under any circumstances will I have to pay the grant back?

This is a grant - not a loan - and you will not be required to pay it back. However, Clay County reserves the right to audit the use of funds and may conduct an audit check on a random selection of grant recipients. Grant recipients who are found to have violated the terms of the application process or conditions of the signed Affidavit may be required to pay back the grant.

I run a nonprofit organization that provides assistance to small business owners. How can I help? Can I participate in administering awards?

You can share information about this grant opportunity to your clients and customers and offer to assist them in completing their application.

Is the amount of the grant taxable to the recipient business?

Please consult your accountant, lawyer, or other tax advisor. Clay County is unable to provide tax advice.

I am self-employed, and I’m receiving unemployment benefits through the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Program. If I receive a grant from this program, how will that affect my unemployment benefits?

Please refer to Unemployment Insurance rules and procedures for how to report a grant as income when you request your weekly benefit.

What kind of businesses can not apply for a grant through this program?

The following businesses would not be eligible:

  • a business manufacturing, distributing, selling or conducting related activities of sexually explicit materials;
  • a business that derives income from passive investments without operational ties to operating businesses;
  • a business whose activities are primarily focused on speculative activities that develop profits from fluctuations in price rather than through the normal course of trade;
  • a business that earns more than half of its annual net revenue from lending activities;
  • a business engaged in pyramid sales, where a participant's primary incentive is based on the sales made by an ever-increasing number of participants;
  • a business engaged in activities that are prohibited by federal law or applicable law in the jurisdiction where the business is located or conducted; and
  • a business engaged in gambling enterprises, unless the business earns less than 50% of its annual net revenue from lottery sales;
  • any home-based business that is not a licensed child care provider.
  • Corporate franchise with national corporate ownership 

Do I have to create or retain jobs for a grant?

No, there are no job creation requirements for the Clay County CARES Small Business COVID-19 Relief Grants.

Can the funds be used for business acquisition and/or the purchase of land or building?

No.

How long will this program last?

Per Federal regulations, all funds must be disbursed by December 1, 2020. We expect all funds to be disbursed by the end of September 2020.

I applied for and received a grant from another source (local or city government, nonprofit, foundation, etc.). Can I still receive a grant from Clay County through this program?

Yes.

I received a Paycheck Protection Program loan or an Economic Injury Disaster Loan (or any other federal SBA loan or grant, including an EIDL Advance). Am I still eligible for a grant from this program?

Yes.

If I receive a grant from this program, how does that affect my Paycheck Protection Program loan?

Please refer this question to your PPP loan servicer or financial advisor.

Who will contact me about my application or this grant?

Official correspondence regarding this application and grant will come from COVID.Relief@claycountymn.gov or noreply@seamlessdocs.com   

What if I have questions?

If you have questions not addressed on this page, send an email to: Covid.Relief@claycountymn.gov  Note that we may not be able to respond individually to each question quickly, but we will read all questions and post answers on the Frequently Asked Questions section of ClayCountyMN.gov/COVID-Relief as soon as possible. Check the FAQ for updated as additional information becomes available.