Grants awarded to flood victims in southern Minnesota

(MPR Photo/ Elizabeth Baier)

The Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation has offered grants to more than 80 businesses affected by the September floods in southern Minnesota, officials announced this week.

The "Flood Recovery Fund" totaled $314,000, according to the foundation.

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"Thanks to the swift response from our funding partners, we were able to provide quick start grants to help business owners cover part of the cost of repairing their facilities, replacing office equipment, and refurbishing supplies and inventory," Tim Penny, the foundation's president and CEO, said in a statement.

Individual businesses qualified for recovery grants of up to $4,500 to help with uncompensated losses and support the long-term economic vitality of the affected communities.

Grants were available to businesses in 18 counties. The foundation awarded most of the of grants to businesses in Owatonna and Zumbro Falls, two of the hardest hit cities.

Owatonna State Farm Insurance Agent Judy Plemel was among the business owners helped by the grant.

"This is the first time we've had to deal with a disaster where we were both a flood victim and serving in our role as the insurance agent helping other flood victims," Plemel said. "We know the 'quick start grants' from SMIF were a tremendous help for us as well as many of our clients."

The foundation worked with partners, including AgStar Financial Services, the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development, the McKnight Foundation, Mayo Clinic, Wells Fargo, Blandin Foundation, AgriBank, Valley Design, F & M Community Bank, Abdo Eick & Meyers LLP and First National Bank, Plainview.