ST. CLOUD -- Minnesota Lieutenant Governor Peggy Flanagan was in St. Cloud Monday as part of an ongoing statewide listening tour of small businesses.

Flanagan stopped at the White Horse Restaurant and Bar to talk with owner Jackie Lee about the challenges she's faced during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The lieutenant governor says a common theme among the small business owners she's heard from is the need for additional financial assistance to make it through the winter months...

The businesses we've talked to who've been recipients of the Small Business Emergency Loan Fund...it's been a relief. And, they need additional support and help. And much of that help needs to come from Washington.

Flanagan says the state of Minnesota has allocated most of the CARES Act funding to counties and cities, and the state's budget isn't in a position to add to that...

The state can't deficit spend. We have to have a balanced budget. And, so that additional support is going to be really meaningful to small businesses like in the hospitality industry, child care, and really the folks who are the backbone of our economy here in Minnesota.

Lee says the grants and low-interest loans provided through the CARES Act were a lifeline when the governor put major restrictions on capacity. And, she's concerned about the future if Governor Walz turns back the dial again...

That would probably not sustainable at a 25% capacity. The grants and loans we've applied for and gotten have helped immensely. I'm just really appreciative of that. But, yes I'd like to see more help for that especially in the winter when we can't use the patio.

Lee says another round of small business grants will be vital to businesses like hers who have seen revenue go way down while costs went up...

You know, of course, we've had to get extra sanitizers. We've had to increase our cleaning and like I said the sanitizers and masks...we've had to do different menus and all kinds of things like that.

Flanagan also made a stop at Stoney Brook Farms in Foley to discuss agriculture and farm operations during the pandemic.

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