ST. CLOUD -- Stearns County is receiving $19.3-million from the federal CARES Act and the first phase of that funding will go to small businesses.

Stearns County is releasing up to $5-million for small companies directly and adversely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Eligible businesses must have less than 50 employees, cannot receive funding from multiple sources, cannot be a chain, a pawnshop, sell tobacco, a gambling organization, a real estate agency or a rental company.

Of the approximately 8,400 small businesses in Stearns County, County Administrator Mike Williams estimates about 4,000 are eligible for these grants.

The grants will be between $500-$7,500 per eligible business.

The application window will be open for four weeks and will be disbursed through the Stearns County HRA.

Six small cities with a population of less than 200 will also be reimbursed for coronavirus expenses through this program.

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