Small business resources for COVID-19

Last updated: Friday, May 1


The Port Authority of Winona, with partners WNB Financial and Merchants Bank, has launched a loan program for small local businesses disrupted or facing closure due to the pandemic.

There are two loan tiers: Loans up to $6,000, and loans up to $20,000.

All loans are interest-free, with payments delayed until January 2021. For more information and to apply, follow this link.


DEED’s Small Business Guide

The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development has created a guide for small businesses struggling during the COVID-19 pandemic. Click/tap here to to read the guide.

Business Emergency Loan Program

A small Business Emergency Loan Program has been developed to assist businesses adversely affected by the condition that precipitated the Governor’s emergency declaration. Click/tap here for more information on the loan program.

  • Requests can be made from $2,500 to $35,000 and will be based on the firm’s economic injury and the financial need
  • Loans are interest free
  • Loans can be paid back monthly over five (5) years and the first payment will be deferred six (6) months
  • Partial forgiveness may be available
  • Loans are provided to only Minnesota-based businesses

The State of Minnesota Business Emergency Loan Program will be administered by the Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation. Complete the application online by clicking/tapping on this link. You must then email your completed application to SMIF’s Diane Lewis, Lending Officer, at; or Marcia Haley, SBA Lending Director, at Call Diane at 507-214-7014 or Marcia at 507-214-7021 with any questions.


Note that many businesses are eligible for multiple programs simultaneously. Please check the details on the linked websites to learn more.

U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA)

The SBA is offering a variety of resources to businesses affected by closure, cancellations and other challenges related to COVID-19. Click/tap the title for general info or read below for details on specific programs.

Economic Injury Disaster Loan program

The program provides low-interest loans of up to $2 million to small businesses and private non-profits. These loans can go toward working capital to meet needs including payroll, accounts payable, and fixed debt payments that can’t be paid due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The current interest rate is 3.75% for small businesses. The non-profit rate is 2.75%. These loans have long-term repayment options, up to a maximum of 30 years.

Business can also apply for an advance loan of up to $10,000. The SBA has said that the advance loan funding can be provided to the business in as little as three working days.

Online applications are now open. Apply for the Economic Injury Disaster Loan program here.

Paycheck Protection Program

The Paycheck Protection Program, distributed through local lenders, is designed to provide a direct incentive for small businesses to keep their workers on payroll by providing each small business a loan up to $10 million for payroll and certain other expenses.

If all employees are kept on payroll for eight weeks, SBA will forgive the portion of the loans used for payroll, rent, mortgage interest, or utilities. Up to 100 percent of the loan is forgivable.

This program is generally for businesses with fewer than 500 employees, though there are exceptions – businesses in certain industries may have more than 500 employees if they meet the SBA’s size standards for those industries.

Other options

The SBA is offering offer debt relief options for businesses that currently have a non-disaster SBA loan. The SBA will also pay the principal and interest of new 7(a) loans issued prior to September 27, 2020. The SBA will pay the principal and interest of current 7(a) loans for a period of six months.

The SBA is offering express bridge loans to allow small businesses who currently have a business relationship with an SBA Express Lender to access up to $25,000 with less paperwork. These loans can provide vital economic support to small businesses to help overcome the temporary loss of revenue they are experiencing and can be a term loans or used to bridge the gap while applying for a direct SBA Economic Injury Disaster loan.

Learn more

Confused about your options? Wondering if you qualify? Click or tap here to read the Small Business Guide to the CARES Act.


Note: Almost all 501c-incorporated nonprofits qualify for the SBA loans listed above, and in most cases nonprofit interest rates are lower.

Otto Bremer Trust

The Otto Bremer Trust has created a $50 million emergency fund to support community organizations. The new fund will provide emergency funding, loans, lines of credit and other financial resources to organizations impacted by and responded to the COVID-19 outbreak. Contact Otto Bremer Trust directly for questions about this program.

Minnesota Disaster Recovery Fund (for nonprofits)

The Minnesota Council on Foundations and Saint Paul & Minnesota Foundation have created the Minnesota Disaster Recovery Fund to support community needs as a direct result of the coronavirus pandemic. The funding will be distributed through granting agencies throughout Minnesota, not directly to nonprofits.

In Winona’s case, the Winona Community Foundation is applying for a block of these funds; you can contact Nancy Brown, Executive Director, at 507-454-6511 or for details. The Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation, along with the state’s other Initiative Foundations, has received a block of funding for childcare organizations.