ST. PETER — More than 60 St. Peter businesses received COVID-19 relief loans in the city’s latest rounds of funding.

The city opened up applications for further business relief in December, after previous rounds earlier in 2020. One new assistance program targeted hospitality businesses, while other businesses could apply for funding through the renewed micro-loan program.

A total of 23 businesses ranging from restaurants to wellness centers to event venues received hospitality assistance dollars totaling $376,268.

Nearly all received the program’s full $10,000 loan amount plus an additional $6,500 in grant funding.

The St. Peter City Council approved the program to help businesses impacted by the state’s restrictions on in-person service in November. Restrictions have since been loosened but not fully lifted.

The funding made a difference for restaurants and other hospitality businesses, said Ed Lee, executive director of the St. Peter Chamber of Commerce.

“It’s very beneficial to businesses, hotels, motels, restaurants especially,” he said. “Restaurants got really hit hard on this one, so any help they could get is just great.”

Those businesses have had to be creative during the pandemic, Lee said. Between mortgages, rent, payroll, utilities and other regular expenses, the funding relieved at least some of the burdens.

“It’s a difference-maker with morale and just knowing that somebody cares, that somebody is out there trying to help,” Lee said.

He complimented city officials for regularly keeping in contact about how to help the local business community. As far as he’s aware, no bars or restaurants in St. Peter have closed so far during the pandemic.

The city’s COVID micro-loan program, initially running from April to August 2020, assisted another 40 businesses since the city brought it back in December. A total of $296,612 went to local establishments, which ranged from child care centers to salons to retailers.

The local chamber was among the recipients, receiving one of the smaller micro-loans totaling $1,997. Loan amounts otherwise varied from as little as $1,536 to the $10,000 max.

The most recent loan will be distributed later this week, and applications could continue through the end of March, according to Community Development Director Russ Wille.

The first round of micro-loans last year ended up being forgiven when the council opted to cover them using CARES Act funding. Similar loan forgiveness for the latest rounds would be welcome, Lee said.

“With the way businesses are struggling, we’d sure love to see that,” he said.

Follow Brian Arola @BrianArola

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