At Jam Hops, a place where kids learn gymnastics and dance, the expenses didn’t stop even though the doors were closed for three months.
Like many businesses, Jam Hops laid off most of their workers and looked for other ways to earn income, including creating online classes. It was a hard time financially and emotionally.
“We’re here because we have a passion for teaching kids when we’re not allow to do that, when you can’t do that it’s really hard to stay motivated,” said Nolby.
Now that they’re reopened, Nolby says business is recovering, and more than one hundred laid off employees are back. The $20,000 CARES Act grant the business received was spent on payroll. That money fills a gap.
“We’re trying to be creative in ways to increase revenue and kind of fill the gaps. We can do that for awhile but the overheard is pretty huge and other than having less staff, there’s not much else we can cut back,” said Nolby.
Jam Hops is one of 57 Ham Lake businesses that received more than $940,000 in federal CARES Act grants funneled through the city. The businesses received anywhere from $50 to $20,000.
Nolby, who is also a member of the Chamber of Commerce Board, says it means a lot.
“For them to choose to put that into businesses is huge. Small business is the backbone of the economy and I think they are recognizing that.”
Ham Lake officials say they were aggressive about letting businesses know about the grant program.
“There’s some businesses in here that just got their teeth kicked in because government forced them to close,” said Mayor Mike Van Kirk at a recent city council meeting. “So for some of them I wonder if 20 thousand will even dent it, but it’s something. We’re trying to give back.”
In Blaine, the city has approved a third round of funding for small business grants. In the first two rounds the city awarded about $500,000 to businesses and non-profit organizations impacted by COVID. The third round adds another $250,000 in federal CARES Act dollars for businesses.