By Bill Hudson

COON RAPIDS, Minn. (WCCO) — For 12 weeks this spring, scissors and styling chairs fell deadly silent inside Denise Turnquist’s hair salon and day spa.

“To try and get ahead now and catch up with everything, is difficult,” Denise explains.

The owner of Image Creators Hair Salon and Day Spa says she’s nowhere near recovering the deep losses caused by the extensive COVID-19 shutdown.

“I have 15 stylists who rent from me and I was not able to collect their rent, and I wasn’t able to work behind a chair. But every bill kept coming in,” Turnquist said.

But soon, the City of Coon Rapids will extend a helping hand to businesses like Turnquist’s and the city’s 1,200 other small businesses.

“Businesses that have fewer than 100 employees will qualify for our program,” said Matt Brown, the city’s economic development coordinator.

Brown says the Coon Rapids Business Relief Grant Program will be offering $15,000 and $30,000 grants. The money is part of the $1.6 million the city received from the Federal CARES Act. It will use the funding to help those small businesses which are struggling to survive.

Brown says the aim is to keep the grant program simple and hassle-free. The funds can be used to pay costs like mortgages and rents, payroll, utilities and even expenses incurred from improvements to safely reopen.

“Most businesses will qualify, providing they can demonstrate they had some sort of financial hardship, which may be as simple as being forced to close,” Brown said.

Dunn Brothers franchise owner Marv Sorvala says cutting staff and hours helped him stay afloat. At his coffee shop on the corner of Foley and Northdale boulevards, he welcomes whatever help he can get.

“Throughout this year we’ve basically lost money and any help like that is great,” Sorvala said.

Denise Turnquist agrees and adds, “there’s no question it will help, $15,000 for a small business is a lot of money.”

It is this city’s way to assure an economy when the customers do come back.

Applications can be made on the City of Coon Rapids website beginning Sept. 1 through Sept. 18.

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