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Emergency Commission approves new Bank of North Dakota COVID program for business debt relief


The state’s Emergency Commission has approved a “Phase Two” for further coronavirus business aid administered by the Bank of North Dakota.

The proposal sets aside $50 million for businesses that look for existing debt forgiveness.  It would be a grant program. And it’s a change in a proposal the Bank submitted in August for $100 million in loan interest rate forgiveness. That was presented as a concept.

That proposal was shelved, with legislators on the Commission not comfortable voting on a concept.

Hardmeyer told the Commission businesses would be asked what their revenue loss was from April 1 to October 1, as compared to the previous year, and the businesses would receive $50,000 in grants. The program would be administered through local banks.

Hardmeyer said he’s been talking to local banks and businesses around the state about this.

“I know a number of you have talked to bankers, business owners, and have concluded that this program is going to have a lot of interest from a lot of companies,” Hardmeyer told the Commission.

House Appropriations Committee chairman Jeff Delzer (R-Underwood) said he would have preferred that the program begin at $25 or $30 million, and if the demand is there, then more money could be allocated.

“I don’t see any reason to have the $50 million setting there, when you can start it at $25 or $30 million, Delzer said.

The original proposal was to accept applications through October 1, and then have the money sent out by December 31. But Gov. Doug Burgum suggested that the time frame be shortened – so that it be a four to six week application period, and the money would get to businesses faster.

Senate Majority Leader Rich Wardner (R-Dickinson) moved the $50 million amount.

“No question that this is going to help get our businesses back on their feet, and get our economy going.”

The vote was 4-2. The no votes came from Delzer and House Majority Leader Chet Pollert (R-Carrington).

The money comes from the federal CARES act. The Bank has returned $120 million of unused funds to the Emergency Commission, for reallocation.

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