Dozens of Douglas County businesses, nonprofits apply for COVID-19 grants

“Our priority is those businesses that were hit the hardest with COVID-mandated closures and are yet to be running at full capacity,” said Nicole Fernholz, director of the Alexandria Area Economic Development Commission.

Nicole Fernholz

A new source of funding will become a lifeline for dozens of businesses and nonprofits in Douglas County trying to survive during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Douglas County, the city of Alexandria and the Alexandria Area Economic Development Commission started the program about three weeks ago.

As of Aug. 27, the AAEDC has received 63 applications and 25 are in the pipeline, according to Nicole Fernholz, commission director.

“We did not know what to expect for applications,” Fernholz said. “The eligible grant requests must be due to COVID expenses or loss of revenue and the applicants must not have been reimbursed for the same expense from another grant program, such as the Paycheck Protection Program, so we were prepared to see several from a variety of industries.”

A total of $2.6 million has been allocated to the local grant program. The money comes from the county and city’s share of the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act. The CARES Act is a $2.2 trillion economic stimulus measure aimed at providing fast and direct economic assistance. Douglas County contributed $2.5 million to the fund and the city gave $105,000.


“Our priority is those businesses that were hit the hardest with COVID-mandated closures and are yet to be running at full capacity,” Fernholz said. “We’re doing a pooled approach and reviewing applications as they come in.”

The AAEDC will make a recommendation to the Douglas County Board at its Tuesday, Sept. 15 meeting on which loans to approve.

Fernholz explained that the program is not a “first come, first serve grant” and nor is it a lottery.

“If fiscally possible, the county’s goal is to fund all eligible requests we have received,” Fernholz said. “If we are oversubscribed with grant requests, I will be asking the county to consider allocating more to the fund.”

To receive a grant, applicants must meet requirements:

  • For-profit businesses in the county must show their gross revenue dropped at least 25% between March 1 and May 30, compared to the previous year, because of COVID-19.

  • Small businesses with 100 employees or fewer are eligible. Employees may be either W-2 employees or independent contractors.

  • Nonprofits can request up to $50,0000 based on need.

The deadline to apply is Friday, Sept. 4. Businesses and nonprofits may apply online at or call the AAEDC with questions at 320-763-4545.

Fernholz noted there are 1,400 businesses with a physical location in the county and several of them had to go many weeks or months with no revenue coming in.

Al Edenloff is the editor of the twice-weekly Echo Press. He started his journalism career when he was in 10th grade, writing football and basketball stories for the Parkers Prairie Independent.
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