North Dakota’s Commerce Department is launching the Economic Resiliency Grant program.
It’s being funded by $69 million from the federal CARES Act.
State Commerce director Michelle Kommer said the federal government did make a number of programs available – the Paycheck Protection Act and economic injury disaster loans. And Kommer said over the past several weeks, Commerce has been listening to businesses, and asking what they need.
"The answers we're hearing from North Dakota businesses are, 'We need our customers to come back' and 'We don't need anolther loan,'" Kommer said in an interview.
Kommer said this new program is designed to help businesses get those customers back during this pandemic.
"At the Department of Commerce, we care about infection control, as a means to the end, which is inspiring consumer confidence to come back to the marketplace safely," Kommer said.
Applicants may qualify to receive up to $50,000 for improvements to help stop the spread of COVID-19.
"If you're a restaurant, you might invest in technology, where you don't have to have menus any more," Kommer said. "You can have a QR reader on your table, where everyone who has a cellphone can scan it and place an order."
Kommer said other ideas include touchless payment systems, touchless faucets, and hand dryers you don't have to touch. She said the business has to show that its proposed improvements will promote health and attract customers.
Kommer said she expects significant demand for these grants. And she expects it will be come an example for other states.
"And my hope is that other businesses who previously thought of doing business or starting a business in North Dakota will look to us and say, 'That is a state that is responsive, and understands the challenges, and knows how to work together with business to solve the challenges.'"
The application process opens July 24th.