Ten businesses in Hibbing have been awarded $324,000 in interest-free loans to help offset the financial effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The city — one of 12 northeastern Minnesota communities to receive a Taconite Area Community Relief grant from the state's Department of Iron Range Resources & Rehabilitation — used the loans in conjunction with the Hibbing Economic Development Authority in a move that impacts 71 jobs in the St. Louis County city.
The 10 businesses received zero-interest loans ranging from $5,000 to $40,000 with a five-year term beginning after a six-month deferment period. Following the deferment, only principal is paid for 60 months.
Additional loans may be provided to other Hibbing businesses in the coming weeks with the remaining $526,000 between the state and local grants.
Among the 10 businesses is Arrowhead Motorcycle Apparel & Supplies. Business owner Tina Serich received her business license in March 2020 but had to delay her store's opening until July due to the shelter-in-place order. The restrictions presented challenges despite a positive community response to the store's opening. She's using the loan to increase inventory and perhaps move to a larger space in the heart of downtown Hibbing.
"The response since the store opening has been fantastic, and I am already seeing the need for more space and larger inventory volumes," said Serich.
The Taconite Area Community Relief Grant program was established last year.
Bars get a break on liquor license fees
Citing the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on businesses, the city has given a partial refund to liquor license holders.
At a meeting earlier this month, the City Council voted to refund part of the liquor-license fees to nine local establishments. The total refund of $1,528 amounts to about a 15% price break.
Council members said they would continue to monitor the issue in 2021.
The city also voted to waive the requirement that charitable gambling operations spend 75% of their proceeds on "lawful purposes within the city's trade area."
Because of the pandemic, pulltabs weren't sold for much of the year. License holders also noted that many fundraising events weren't held.
In addition, community festivals that often receive donations from charitable gambling also were canceled this year.