COVID-19 Resources and Updates for Business Owners and Employees

The diverse business community that spreads across northern Minnesota and Wisconsin will stand strong through this international crisis. We’ve weathered economic downturns and shifting landscapes before, and we’ve continued to seize new opportunities to grow beyond expectations. We’ve accomplished this and more by learning from one another and sticking together.

Staying current is essential but challenging with new resources and information becoming available every day. APEX is committed to keeping this page up to date with the information you need to make strategic decisions for your business. We’ll keep you informed so you can stay focused on maintaining operations and strengthening your business.

Available Covid-19 Relief Funding-


Main Street COVID Relief Grants Program

The Minnesota Department of Employment & Economic Development (DEED) will oversee the Main Street COVID Relief Grants Program that was approved by the Minnesota State Legislature and signed by Gov. Tim Walz on June  30, 2021.  A total of $64,200,000 is available (with $32,100,00 designated specifically for businesses in Greater MN) and will be disbursed in $10,000 - $25,000 grants to Minnesotan-owned and operated businesses that can demonstrate financial hardship due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
To be eligible to apply, qualifications include the following:
•    Be a private for-profit business or non-profit organization (that earns revenue in ways similar to a business) with primary operations located in the state of Minnesota.
•    Be at least 50% owned by one or more residents (s) of Minnesota.
•    Employ the equivalent of 200 full-time workers or less.
•    Be able to demonstrate financial hardship as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak.
•    Minimum total sales or revenue of at least $10,000 for the 2020 or 2019 tax year.
The application portal will open on Sept. 20 and will accept applications for 10 days after opening. Applications will close on Sept. 29 at 11:59 p.m.  To find more details and application information, please click on the following link to DEED’s website:
DEED will host informational sessions on the following dates.  The below links will connect you to the virtual sessions through Microsoft Teams : 
•    Tuesday, Sept. 14 at 11 a.m.
•    Monday, Sept. 20 at 10 a.m.
If you have questions, email
The Northland Foundation will be the regional administrator of the grant funds for northeast Minnesota. Northland’s SBDC staff will be hosting a training session on September 15, 1:30 - 3 p.m. via Zoom.  To register for this session, go to  Their SBDC staff will also provide one-on-one, no-cost consulting services to provide technical assistance in preparing the grant application.  To access these services, visit their website at, click the red button for “Request for Services”, complete a short form and you’ll then be assigned to a local consultant to assist you.


Northwest Wisconsin “We’re All Innovating Contest - Phase 2”

The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation is recognizing and rewarding Wisconsin companies who have demonstrated resilience, ingenuity and commitment over the past seven months with Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act funding through the We’re All Innovating Contest ( administered in partnership with the Wisconsin Technology Council.

The We’re All Innovating Contest is open to new and established Wisconsin businesses with 50 or fewer employees. Approximately 10,000 companies can receive awards up to $5,000. The three categories a company can submit themselves for are: 1) Technology innovation to address COVID-19 impacts on health, 2) Technology innovation to address COVID-19 impacts on businesses, and 3) Service and business operation innovations to respond to COVID-19 disruption.

For additional details and to apply, visit Applications will be accepted starting at 8:00 am on October 19 until 11:59 pm on November 2 


Emergency Loans, Financing and Tax Relief

NEW - Arrowhead Regional Development Commission (ARDC)

Arrowhead Regional Development Commission (ARDC) has been awarded $3.88 million in economic development aid from the federal Economic Development Administration (EDA).  

Businesses located within the ARDC service area (Aitkin, Carlton, Cook, Itasca, Koochiching, Lake, and St. Louis Counties) are eligible to apply for a low interest loan using these funds. The new program can fund all types of businesses, including industrial, commercial, retail, restaurants, and non-profits. 


Douglas, Bayfield, and Ashland Counties:

The NWRPC (Northwest Regional Planning Commission) has been awarded $1,000,000 in Economic Development Administration funding to capitalize their EDA loan fund for post-COVID recovery and resiliency efforts. They can lend up to $150,000 per project, though there needs to be a job creation or retention portion and it needs some sort of matching funds or owner injection, collateral and cash flow to show debt repayment obligations. Ken Pearson, NWRPC Loan Fund Manager would be your contact if interested - Learn More

Bayfield & Ashland Counties:
Impact Seven in Rice Lake has also received $1,000,000 in EDA funding to assist with the same efforts as NWPRC for the following northern counties: Burnett, Sawyer, Ashland, Bayfield, and Washburn counties. Contact Bob Mayer -  Learn More

Douglas County:
The Development Association has its own loan program offering no interest loans up to $5000 to Douglas County businesses with no payments for 6 months, and 3 year payback. Jim Caesar at the Development Association would be your contract for this program - Learn More


Taconite Area Business Relief Loan Program

Department of Iron Ranges Resources and Rehabilitation (DIRRR) created the Taconite Area Business Relief Loan Program back in June that is administered by The Entrepreneur Fund who continues to accept applications for this program.  Businesses located within the Iron Range Resources & Rehabilitation service area are eligible to apply for 2% interest loans of up to $40,000 to be used as working capital or any legal purposes. No repayment on the loans will be due for the first six months, followed by 60 payments of principal and interest.  Eligible businesses must have been in operation for at least one year and operating on March 1, 2020. Applicants must intend to re-open if currently closed due to the pandemic.


SBA Disaster Assistance Loans CARES ACT Information

SBA disaster loans are available to businesses, regardless of size, and nonprofits including charitable organizations such as churches and private universities. Learn more here about relief programs from SBA including the Paycheck Protection Program(PPP) and more.

IRS - Coronavirus Tax Relief 

The IRS has established a special section focused on steps to help taxpayers, businesses and others affected by the coronavirus. Visit the IRS website for more information. 

MN DEED - Financing Programs 

Visit the MN DEED website for details on their business financing programs as well as guidance on financing a business.

Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation

Here, the State of Wisconsin’s department of economic development details available SBA low interest disaster loans as well as grant resources available to Wisconsin businesses from WEDC and other local, state and federal agencies.


About COVID-19

Center for Disease Control Information about COVID-19

Please visit the CDC website for the most up to date information about COVID-19 (coronavirus).


Business Resources Supporting Safe, Effective Working Environments

Center for Disease Control Guidance for Business

Visit the CDC website for interim guidance that may help prevent workplace exposures to COVID-19, in non-healthcare settings. (CDC has provided separate guidance for health care settings.) This guidance also provides planning considerations for community spread of COVID-19. 


Occupational Safety and Health Administration of Employers

Visit the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OHSA) website for interim guidance for employers and workers to help prevent exposure and infection of COVID-19. Additional resources on preparing workplaces in the event of a coronavirus exposure can be found here. Read More



APEX is proud to share these best practices for returning to work safely compiled by the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce, of whom APEX is a highly participatory member.  The Chamber’s goal has been to strike a balance between safeguarding health and protecting Minnesota’s economy. Minnesota businesses are eager to get back to work, and through this article, you will learn how this can be done at the lowest risk to employees. Read More


National Association of Manufacturers

The National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) has developed this robust set of COVID-19 Federal Policy Recommendations, insights from national members, and other best practices for manufacturers.


Midwest Manufacturers Association Webinar Series

The umbrella association of Arrowhead Manufacturers and Fabricators Association (AMFA) has partnered with the Minnesota Precision Manufacturers Association (MPMA) and begun producing a webinar series that is available to view at the following links:


Safe Work Playbook

Lear Corporation, headquartered in Southfield, Michigian generously created and is openly sharing their Safe Work Playbook, as a point of reference to assist other manufacturers and industries. 


MN DEED - COVID-19 Information and Resources for Employers and Businesses 

For additional resources and information for Minnesota businesses, visit the MN DEED website. 

Effective May 4th, 2020 -  What businesses are allowed to go back to work under EO 20-48? 


Employers and Workers – Preparing for the Return to Work

In an effort to correct misinformation and alleviate confusion over the legal rights of employers and workers as the pandemic lockdowns lift and employees return to work, this list of FAQs clarifies guidelines for the transitional period ahead. The reference document explains how employers can ensure a safe workplace and how employees can report unsafe working conditions to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). It highlights details that are easy to overlook regarding the unemployment collection and dispensation process. It also provides further resources for employers who should develop a COVID-19 Preparedness Plan, as well as employees who have concerns about returning to work. Read More


Unemployment Assistance for Employees

Minnesota Unemployment Information 

For information regarding unemployment in Minnesota, visit the official website of the Minnesota Unemployment Insurance Program, administered by the Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED).

COVID-19:  Applying for unemployment if you are self-employed or an independent contractor Learn More & Apply

Wisconsin Unemployment Information 

For information regarding unemployment in Wisconsin, visit the Department of Workforce Development website. As a result of Governor Evers emergency order, you do not need to do a work search during the Governor's declared emergency. 


Minnesota Department of Health

Visit the Minnesota Department of Health website for more information about COVID-19 and strategies to slow the spread throughout the state.


Minnesota Governor Tim Walz has taken decisive action to curb the spread of COVID-19, support our health care providers and facilities, and mitigate the impact on Minnesota families. Visit the #StayHomeMN website for more information.


Wisconsin Safer at Home

Governor Tony Evers and Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) Secretary-designee Andrea Palm issued a Safer at Home order to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. Read the Safer at Home order for more information.

Wisconsin Department of Health Services

Visit the Wisconsin Department of Health Services website for more information about COVID-19 and strategies to slow the spread throughout the state.   


Employment Opportunities


NORTHFORCE remains the regionally trusted workforce networking tool during these COVID impacted times. Refer to the platform to post all open positions, including temporary, and encourage any furloughed or laid off individuals to register and connect with locally open positions in their field. Learn More