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Our opinion: We’re all in this together

The recent announcement that Mower County is freeing up $1.25 million in COVID-19 relief for small businesses comes as good news at the right time.

The county received a total of $4.9 million under the CARES Act and has taken the appropriate steps to help alleviate the pressures the coronavirus pandemic has placed on smaller businesses.

This money will go toward helping these businesses with payroll, rent, mortgage payments, utility bills and operational expenses.

To qualify, businesses must be:

• Able to demonstrate financial hardship as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

• An employer of the equivalent of 50 or fewer full-time workers.

• A business, nonprofit or animal ag producer who has a permanent physical location in Mower County. 

• Majority-owned by a permanent resident of Mower County or an adjacent county in Minnesota or Iowa.

• In good standing as of March 1, 2020, with the Minnesota Secretary of State and Minnesota Department of Revenue.

We understand the well-intentioned limiting of this money to businesses owned and operated by those who have made Mower County home, it prevents the county from also helping businesses that meet all other criteria, employing all local people who may be struggling through this pandemic as well.

In the interest of full disclosure, the Austin Daily Herald, an affiliate of Alabama-based Boone Newspapers, Inc., is one of the businesses that meets all other criteria, but is seemingly omitted based on just that one part.

But we certainly are not the only one.

Many small businesses will be excluded from receiving the $10,000 simply because they are owned by out-of-state interests.

Small businesses employ people and pay property and payroll taxes regardless of where the owners live. Their employees own and rent homes, shop locally, educate their children here and make up an essential part of our local economy.

No doubt, commissioners had some tough decisions in setting these qualifications, but we hope that in the future it will be remembered that many more small businesses need help during this process. We are all in this together.