The North Dakota Department of Commerce will begin taking applications for the Hospitality Economic Resiliency Grant program at 10 a.m. Friday, Nov. 20.

HERG will be the second round of grants offered to businesses by the state using federal CARES Act funding. This round will focus only on businesses in the hospitality sector, including hotels, bars, restaurants, entertainment venues and the production companies that support them, that were ordered to close on March 13, by an executive order issued by Gov. Doug Burgum. The grants will come from a pool of about $54 million set aside for the program. The online application portal will close at 5 p.m. Friday, Dec. 4.

“These are very challenging times, and we hope that you can feel the gratitude coming from the Emergency Commission, the Budget Section, the Governor's office and from Commerce, that we're here for you,” said Lt. Gov. Brent Sanford, in opening remarks at a Nov. 17 briefing detailing the program. “(We’re) hoping that this can help to stay open, to move forward and continue through these challenging times.”

Businesses with one location can apply for a grant of up to $25,000, and those with multiple locations can apply for up to $75,000. Business owners who are awarded funding for multiple locations cannot spend more than $25,000 per location. The grants can be used for operating costs including payroll, rent, utilities, personal protective equipment and new technology. Businesses who receive grants must follow North Dakota Smart Restart guidelines.

Business owners can apply for grants for the period between March 27 and the date of the application. Shawn Kessel, interim director of the Department of Commerce, noted there is no appeals process for a business that has been denied funding, so owners must carefully document the expenses for which they are seeking funding. Receipts and other documentation must be clearly tied to the business’s physical location.

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“Providing all documentation (that shows) appropriate justification for each expense item will ensure your best chance of success for the grant program,” Kessel said.

Funding will be awarded on a first-come, first-served basis. The online application portal and further information about the program, including eligibility requirements, can be found at http://belegendary.link/HERG. A video recording outlining the grant program, including a walk-through on how to apply, also can be found there.