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Small Business Resources

Retail Occupancy Calculator 

Governor Tim Walz’s  Executive Order 20-56 signed May 13 addressed safely reopening Minnesota’s economy, including allowing customer-facing businesses to open if they have plans in place to keep their workers and patrons safe. These plans will help to build consumer confidence in  business operations. The state Department of Labor and Industry has plan templates available in several languages on its website.  

Effective May 18, 2020, all retail stores, malls and other businesses that sell, rent, maintain and repair goods can reopen for in-person sales as long as they: 

  • Have adopted and implemented a COVID-19 Preparedness Plan, including social distancing guidelines for workers and customers 
  • Allow no more than 50% of the establishment's occupant capacity inside at any time 

The orders, based on public health guidance, rely on voluntary compliance by business owners. City of Saint Paul staff are prepared to provide information and guidance to owners as needed to ensure the safety and health of all their workers and customers.  To report a potential violation of the Governor’s orders, please email SAHviolations@state.mn.us  or call  651-793-3746.

The City of Saint Paul’s Department of Safety and Inspections has created an online tool that will help small business owners easily calculate 50% occupant capacity based on square footage. Follow the steps below to calculate 50% retail occupancy. 

This tool is meant to provide an estimated calculation of modifications necessary to reduce your occupancy load by 50% as you prepare your plan to comply with Governor Walz’s Order #20-56. This estimate should not be considered binding or relied upon for fire code or exiting purposes. If you need further guidance please contact 651-266-8989.

  1. Start by dividing the space into separate sections that you can easily measure. 
  2. Measure the length and width of each section. 
  3. Get the area of each section by multiplying the length X width of each section. 
  4. Add the area of each section to get the total square footage. 
  5. Divide the total square footage by 120 to get the 50% occupancy capacity. 

Retail Occupancy Calculator

Enter sales area square footage:

 


Normal Occupancy :  
Reduced Occupancy:  

 

Frequently Asked Questions 

The Governor’s orders rely on our voluntary compliance.  Saint Paul appreciates you, your employees, and patrons following these orders, which are designed to keep all of us healthy. Demonstrating compliance with public health guidance gives consumers the confidence they need to get out and shop safely. 

What qualifies as retail under the Governor’s order?  
The Governor’s order 20-56 does not actually use the word retail.  Instead it is broad and uses the phrase “Non-Critical Businesses that are customer facing.”   

Can restaurants and bars open yet?  
No. More guidance is expected from state agencies on May 20, 2020 in preparation for opening on June 1, 2020.  

What more do I need to know about the Governor’s order related to retail businesses? 
Effective May 18, 2020 retail business may open to the public as long as they comply with four conditions: 

  1. Have a COVID-19 Preparedness Plan  signed by senior management and posted for all workers 
  2. Training on the COVID-19 Preparedness Plan 
  3. Post signs to prevent people from congregating in groups 
  4. Limit people in the store to half of what is normally allowed (occupant load) 

What is an occupant load? 
Occupant load factors have been established through studies showing how much space people take for activities and movement. These occupant load factors are based on how the space is being used.  The state fire and building codes most commonly use occupant load calculations to establish exiting and fire protection requirements. 

Why do I use half my occupant load? 
The Governor’s office strongly encourages Minnesotans to maintain social distancing while in public. Permitting half the number of customers into a store allows this to occur. 

Additional Resources 

  • Re-Opening Minnesota’s Customer Facing Businesses Plan. The Minnesota Retailers Association’s retail roundtable workgroup representing retailers, chambers of commerce, associations, and other stakeholders, developed this plan. This plan is not intended to apply to restaurants, bars, salons and other business where separate re-opening plans are being contemplated or businesses that are open under existing Executive Orders. 
  • The most complete list of industries and permitted activities may be found on the state Department of Employment and  Economic Development  (DEED) site.  

City of Saint Paul

  • Pay it Forward Business Mentor Program. Leveraging an existing business mentor model developed by SCORE Saint Paul, Pay It Forward will engage an array of volunteers with financial and business experience to support local business owners who need assistance in navigating COVID-19 grant and loan relief opportunities. Learn more at saintpaulchamber.com/payitforward
  • Fine, Fee, and Collection Relief Measures for Businesses and Residents. Mayor Carter has announced a set of fine, fee and collection relief measures in response to the economic impact of COVID-19 affecting businesses and residents. The measures include a reduction in business license fees, business license renewal extensions, waiving towing and storage fees for city impound lots during the peacetime emergency period, suspending all dunning and collection processes through June 30th, and delaying multi-year street assessments that would be levied this year until 2021.
  • Earned Sick and Safe Time FAQs. The City of Saint Paul's Department of Human Rights and Equal Economic  Opportunity has prepared a new COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions as well as a business resources page regarding the City's Earned Sick and Safe Time ordinance. If you have additional questions, call 651-266-8966 or email laborstandards@ci.stpaul.mn.us.
  • Public Contracting Opportunities. The City has an ongoing need for local vendors that can provide supplies for the response to COVID-19. Small, minority and women-owned businesses are encouraged to register with the City as a CERT-certified business. The CERT programs works to increase local small business participation in local public contracting opportunities. Learn more at StPaul.gov or call 651-266-8966. 
  • Curbside pickup for restaurants. Restaurants will be able to post temporary signs for curbside pick-up areas without applying for and paying the usual permit and fees. Posted curbside pick-up signs must be able to be used by any restaurants in the area and does not reserve the parking lane space(s). Learn more here.
  • Reduced skyway hours for building owners. Mayor Carter has issued Executive Order 2020-05 allowing building owners connected to the Saint Paul skyway system to reduce daily hours of operation for their skyway section to 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. The order allows downtown residents and essential workers to continue to move between buildings and access facilities during typical business hours amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The order will remain in effect for 40 days. To reduce skyway hours within their buildings, property owners must post signage noting the new temporary operating hours of that section of the skyway. For information, call 651-266-8989 or email DSI-InformationAndComplaints@ci.stpaul.mn.us.
  • Saint Paul Public Library offers free resources for business planning, market research, and finding grants for nonprofits: sppl.org/workplace.

Local 

  • Ramsey County Small Business Relief Fund grants. Self-employed entrepreneurs and small businesses with fewer than 20 employees are encouraged to apply. Applications open through Aug. 18, 2020.
  • The We Love Saint Paul and We Love Midway funds were set up in partnership between the Saint Paul Area Chamber of Commerce, the Midway Chamber of Commerce, and the Saint Paul Downtown Alliance in order to provide direct support, through emergency relief funds, to small businesses and nonprofits impacted by the unrest that followed Mr. Floyd’s death. Apply by filling out the application found at: https://forms.gle/VMdK5wFQpVyiizSU8. Grants will be awarded on a rolling basis until the funds are exhausted.
  • ReUSE Minnesota is supporting the community through the Twin Cities Plywood Rescue, an effort to collect and store plywood for reuse later. As businesses start removing plywood and reopening their locations, ReUSE Minnesota's goal is to minimize the amount of usable material going to the landfill or being burned. 
    • Request plywood pickup. You will be matched with a volunteer who will pick up your boards. Wood will be taken to a central location to be sorted and palletized for future use.
    • Sign up as a volunteer to help with this effort.
    • ReUSE Minnesota will respect murals and artwork and is working with the MN Historical Society and other organizations to preserve these pieces.
  • Ramsey County has information for business assistance resources from Saint Paul economic development partners. Stay up to date at ramseycountymeansbusiness.com/covid-19
  • Minnesota African Coalition COVID-19 Taskforce (MACC-T) is a taskforce on COVID-19 by African immigrant Community Based Organization (CBO) leaders, business owners, professionals, executive leaders and representatives of African immigrant population in Minnesota. Learn more about MACC-T.
  • Propel Nonprofits Working Capital Loans. Loans to support program and operational stability or program expansion or reimbursements. Typical range: $20,000 to $600,000. 
  • Think Small provides resources and information to childcare providers and parents.

Minnesota

  • Minnesota Chamber of Commerce Restoration and Recovery Resources - In response to the damage and loss of businesses in Minneapolis and Saint Paul and COVID-19, the Chamber is working to create a network of expertise, services and volunteer time to help businesses who need it most. The Chamber has created a database of member companies willing to donate their products and services, free of charge, to help struggling businesses get back on their feet.
  • The American Institute of Architects (AIA) Minnesota chapter is mobilizing architects and the broader architecture community to provide one-hour consultation services to restaurants, bars and food service establishments to help them apply the State of Minnesota’s guidance for reopening in the midst of COVID-19. Architects licensed to practice in Minnesota, along with architectural designers and other key collaborators, will be matched with business owners/operators to explore options specific to their site and spaces.
  • The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development has published a Guide for Minnesota Small Businesses Who Need Help
  • Information about Safely Returning to Work for Businesses. Governor Tim Walz and state agencies including the Department of Employment and Economic Development, Department of Health, and Department of Labor and Industry are working together to safely allow some non-Critical Sector businesses to open, while abiding by the Stay at Home order issued on March 25, 2020 and extended until May 18, 2020.
  • The State of Minnesota announces new tools to help businesses promote safe work environments. Executive Order 20-40, the Governor requires all non-critical businesses coming back into workplace environments to engage in proper health screenings each day. Target Corp, Minnesota IT Services, and the Minnesota Safety Council have created the MN Symptom Screener, a new web-based tool that allows businesses to enter non-personal health information to help make a determination about someone entering their facility. Learn more about the announcement here.
  • The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) is creating an emergency loan program to help Minnesota small business owners who need immediate assistance to meet their families’ basic needs during COVID-19 closures. Small Business Emergency Loan Program by making available $30 million from special revenue funds. These dollars will be used by DEED’s lender network to make loans of between $2,500 and $35,000 for qualifying small business
  • State of Minnesota has provided information for childcare providers.
  • First Children’s Finance provides financing, training and business-development assistance to child care businesses in the Midwest. 

National

  • Small Business Administration Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) - Businesses applying for EIDL can request up to $10,000 be disbursed quickly prior to the official loan offer. The amount need not be repaid under any circumstances regardless of the loan decision. The form to apply for an advance is part of the new EIDL application. If you have already applied for an EIDL Loan and wish to apply for the advance, please fill out the new, streamlined application.
    • Low interest, long term Economic Injury Disaster Loans for up to $2 million: The first payment is deferred for 12 months. The application has been simplified and can be completed 100% online through our improved web portal at www.sba.gov/disaster. These loans may be used to pay fixed debts, payroll, accounts payable and other bills that can’t be paid because of the disaster’s impact. The interest rate is 3.75% for small businesses. The interest rate for non-profits is 2.75% and the loans can be extended over 30 years.
    • Why this might make sense for you: The SBA EIDL can be used to maintain payroll, provide paid sick leave, meet increased costs, make rent or mortgage payments, as well as repay unmet expenses and obligations.
  • Save Small Business Fund. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation – in partnership with Vistaprint and a coalition of supporting companies, foundations, and philanthropic donors – has launched the Save Small Business Fund. The Fund will provide $5,000 grants to help as many businesses as possible meet their most pressing needs -- from rent, making payroll, or for overall business operations.
  • SBA Debt Relief. The SBA Debt Relief program will provide a reprieve to small businesses as they overcome the challenges created by this health crisis.Under this program: 
    • The SBA will also pay the principal and interest of new 7(a) loans issued prior to September 27, 2020. 
    • The SBA will pay the principal and interest of current 7(a) loans for a period of six months.  
  • SBA is providing materials in languages other than English to help business owners recover.

Nonprofits

  • Community Benefit Financial Company Emergency Fund (Otto Bremer Trust)$50 million emergency fund for all nonprofits. Funding is available in the form of short-term loans, lines of credit, and emergency grants  Submit an initial inquiry form at https://ottobremer.tfaforms.net/5. For details, visit https://ottobremer.org/emergency-fund/ 
  • Propel Nonprofits Working Capital Loans. Loans to support program and operational stability or program expansion or reimbursements. Typical range: $20,000 to $600,000. Learn more at https://www.propelnonprofits.org/lending/. ​​
  • Paycheck Protection Program (SBA) is also available for private nonprofits. Apply for 1% interest, 2-year loans, covering up to 2 months of payroll costs, plus 25% of that amount, for qualified small businesses, sole proprietorships, independent contractors and self-employed persons, private nonprofit and veterans organizations. Loan amounts will be forgiven if used to maintain or quickly rehire employees, maintaining salary levels. For details, visit sba.gov/funding-programs/loans/paycheck-protection-program-ppp