(AP) - The seven counties in southeastern Minnesota hit hardest by the August flooding will get almost immediate access to $35 million in state flood relief for damaged businesses, state officials said Friday.
Commissioner of the Department of Employment and Economic Development Dan McElroy and Kevin Kelleher, Southeast Minnesota Business Development Representative, were in Rushford on Friday morning.
McElroy said local governments would administer the money, which was approved this week during the Legislature's special session. Up to a third of it could be used for forgivable loans, while the remaining money would be used as low interest loans.
Payments on those loans would be split between the local governments and the Minnesota Investment Fund, which in turn would use the money to assist communities hit by future disasters.
Kelleher said the local governments in the seven counties designated as federal disaster areas will pick the organizations that will handle the application process and work with business owners.
He said among the entities that could be involved in the application process are the Southeastern Minnesota Development Corporation and local Economic Development Authorities.
McElroy and Kelleher also met with business owners on Friday morning in Rushford, which was heavily damaged in the August floods, which killed seven people.
"I was impressed by the positive attitude of the people we met with," McElroy said.
The business owners weren't complaining; they just wanted to get on with rebuilding, he said. "It makes you proud to be a Minnesotan," he said.
Flood damage has been estimated at $67 million for private property and infrastructure, including 1,500 damaged homes.
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