East Grand Forks’ Economic Development Authority is set to give out $80,000 worth of loans to four businesses that have been wholly or partially shut down by Gov. Tim Walz’s COVID-19 orders.

Members of the development authority’s board agreed on Tuesday, Jan. 5, to give $20,000 apiece to Casa Mexico, Eagles Aerie #350, Little Bangkok and Mike’s Pizza Pub under a “targeted” loan program they put together last month to help businesses affected by the governor’s closure orders.

Al-Huda Islamic Center also applied for that same sum, but it isn’t a restaurant, movie theater or arts space, per se, and, thus, development authority staff and board members felt it did not fit within the loan program’s guardrails. The board voted 5-1 to not issue a loan to Al-Huda. Tim Johnson, an East Grand Forks City Council liaison to the board, was the single “nay” vote.

But that doesn’t mark the end of the development authority’s largesse: Board members also considered the contours of a second loan program financed by East Grand Forks’ city government. That program is still in the works, but it would dole out $260,000 worth of “forgivable” loans to Eastside businesses restrained by the governor’s coronavirus precautions.

Forgivable loans don’t need to be repaid if their recipients meet certain agreed-upon criteria -- staying in business for X years afterward or retaining Y number of employees, for instance -- and development authority board members and a subcommittee composed of city staff and development authority officials will come up with those stipulations this week and next.

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Board members on Tuesday went back and forth over the merits of, for instance, paying each business that applies for that $260,000 equally or changing the size of each loan based on financial need. Board member Diane Blair suggested including transportation-minded businesses, which have reportedly struggled despite not being specifically impacted by Walz’s orders.

Beyond that, Polk County is in line for $622,143 from a business relief bill approved by Minnesota lawmakers last month. East Grand Forks businesses, in turn, can receive $200,000 of that total. City leaders are set to recommend to county commissioners a list of Eastside businesses to receive that money.