MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — St. Paul is considering a multi-million dollar relief package for families and small business owners struggling to make ends meet amid the COVID-19 outbreak. Among the hundreds of small business owners expected to get some relief, is Wes Burdine.

Three weeks ago, Burdine was getting ready for one of his bar’s biggest days of the year: the Minnesota United home opener. The next day, Major League Soccer postponed its season.

Within a week, that bar — the Black Hart of St Paul — shut its doors.

“Right now we’re just trying to bunker down and cut as many costs, and survive,” said Burdine.

He stands to benefit from the St Paul Bridge fund, which would provide eligible small business owners a $7,500 grant.

Mayor Melvin Carter described it as a resource to help people get by until more sustainable help arrives.

“Here’s some help to bridge the gap between today and the future,” said Carter.

Most of the $3.85 million dollar fund is public money — roughly $500,000 was donated. Most will go to small business owners, but low-income families who have at least one child can also apply to get $1,000 from the city.

Mayor Carter knows it’s not enough long-term.

“It’s not enough at all. We know that our need is immense right now,” said Carter. “Our goal as a city is to do something, and even when we know we can’t do everything, we’re not going to let the perfect be the enemy of the good.”

For Burdine, the bridge fund is enough to keep the lights on, in hopes of one day getting the things back that money can’t buy.

“A place like this is about community and bringing people together and the community it’s supported over the years and being able to see people and just embrace people again,” said Burdine. “I miss that.”

Learn more about the St Paul Bridge Fund by clicking here.

Christiane Cordero