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Social distancing moves JDA meeting to web

By Staff | Apr 10, 2020

The Rugby Job Development Authority held its regular meeting via an internet teleconferencing software platform Wednesday at noon.

JDA Executive Director provided the board updates on what she called a situation that “changes daily.”

“Just trying to stay on top of them (is a challenge),” Heisey told the board. “This is just unprecedented.”

Heisey presented information on federal and state programs designed to help businesses sustaining losses due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which sparked government orders to curtail most commercial activity in North Dakota and nationwide.

Heisey encouraged board members to visit www.piercecountyresources.com, which provides a link to the JDA’s website and a list of loans and financial support programs from government and non-profit organizations.

Heisey said the JDA answers phone calls and fields requests on social media from people looking for assistance as well.

“We have our main contacts – our local banks are first,” Heisey said. “We look at programs like (those offered by the Small Business Administration) and then we contact the North Dakota Small Business Development Center,” Heisey added.

Heisey said she also receives updates and provides links to assistance from the North Dakota Department of Commerce and the Bank of North Dakota.

We’re looking at some other (assistance programs) – Souris Basin and the Bank of North Dakota have money allocated to them for a lending program. There are a lot of new updates as they roll forward.”

Heisey noted the assistance programs through some banks “are set up so it’s first-come, first-serve, a lot of these banks hit their caps (or limits for financial assistance they can provide).”

Heisey said financial institutions are “encouraging people to (apply for loans and assistance) as soon as possible because they do not anticipate that the funding will go very far. Congress is looking at (another) stimulus package, but that’s not out yet.”

Heisey highlighted an SBA program called the Small Business Disaster Relief program.

“We’re definitely encouraging businesses to apply for that because (applicants) can get up to a $10,000 advance for operating expenses,” Heisey said.

“That even applies to a sole proprietor, even if they don’t have employees or a W-2, they can count themselves as an employee. They can get money for operating expenses. Even if their overall loan application is not approved and they get up to the $10,000 advance, that part is forgiven. It’s basically a grant. So, (SBA officials) were encouraging anyone who is eligible to do that. Heisey said the grant money was “not included on (applicants’) income or anything. So, that’s kind of a no-brainer.”

“Definitely encourage your clients or businesses to apply for that if they’re eligible,” Heisey told board members Blair Brattvet and Susan Selensky, who work at local banks.

“We’ve been discussing those,” Brattvet said of the SBA disaster loan programs. “I’ve been doing that all morning. Interesting day. I’ve been on the phone and in front of my computer since 8:30 this morning in conference calls.”

Heisey said, “Other priorities are encouraging people to answer the census because that really affects times like this when they’re doing disaster relief, how much money is allocated to our community. So, we want to keep pushing and making sure everyone’s participating in the census. We still need to keep doing our strategic planning, especially economic development is going to be crucial now.”

“And now, more than ever,” Heisey added, “our Small Business Development Center is really proving how much we need them.”

“I am going to reach out to Souris Basin again,” Heisey noted. ” I know they will be giving additional funding now.”

“So, my priorities are keeping up (on the latest information),” Heisey said.

Heisey told the board the North Dakota Department of Commerce was seeking information on training opportunities they could provide and the Bank of North Dakota was open to feedback from local bankers.

Heisey also told the board state government organizations were developing surveys to aid in economic recovery plans.

Board member Jodi Schaan told Heisey, “I want to let you know how grateful I am that you’re in the office there and you provide the support for our community.”

“It’s hard to keep up with all of it,” Heisey answered with a laugh.

Other board members complimented Heisey on her work.

“We’re all in this together,” Heisey said.

In other business, the JDA board approved the agenda, March 11 regular meeting minutes and financials. The next JDA regular meeting will take place May 13.

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