Rochester Innovation Grant Program FAQs
Here are some Frequently Asked Questions regarding the Rochester Innovation Grant Program (RIGP). New information will be added as it becomes available. Please check back frequently. We list an email at the end if your question is not addressed here, but due to the large volume of interest in this program, we may not be able to respond to every inquiry promptly. These FAQs were last updated on 09/13/21.
When and how do I apply?
Applications open at noon on Friday, September 3, 2021 on the RIGP page of the RAEDI website, and close at 11:59 PM on Sunday, September 19, 2021.
Can I send in a paper or email application?
No. Due to the large volume of applications, we can only accept applications submitted through the online form.
I clicked “Submit” on my application and the screen message said, “Thank you for applying for the Rochester Innovation Grant Program!” Did you receive my application? Can I get an email confirmation?
Yes, we received your application. When you fill out the application and click submit, you will receive a default notification from the software we are using to collect application information that says, “Thank you for applying for the Rochester Innovation Grant Program!” This means we’ve received your application. Unfortunately, we’re not able to provide an email confirmation or reference number, so please print this page for your records.
I started my application but didn’t complete it and left the website before clicking submit. Can I go back and start where I left off?
Yes, you should be able to continue your application from where you left off, as long as you’re using the same computer and browser. If it didn’t save, you are welcome to start again, complete a new application, and submit it.
I completed the application and submitted it, but I either made a mistake or I need to update it. Can I go back and change my information?
No, you will be unable to edit your application once it's submitted. You can submit another application, however, and your previous application will be disregarded; the last application you submit will be the one considered for award consideration.
I am completing multiple applications for my different business clients. Can I do this?
Yes, although you may want to complete each application in a new Private Window or a new browser, to prevent cookies used in the application program from overwriting previously submitted applications.
I think I uploaded the wrong document. Is there any way to double check it?
If you’re not sure if you uploaded the correct document, you can go back to your application before submitting and remove the previously uploaded document and upload a new one, but there’s no way to check to see if it’s the correct one (aside from double checking the file name in the application). Due to the high number of applications, we cannot check it on our end for you once its submitted. You can submit another application, however, and your previous application will be disregarded; the last application you submit will be the one considered for award consideration.
I accidentally submitted more than one application. Will I be disqualified?
No. However we can only accept the last application you submitted. Any applications you submitted prior to the last one you submitted will be disregarded. Please do your best to avoid submitting more than one application for the same business.
Does it matter when I submit my application?
Yes. After the businesses with Priority Characteristics are processed, eligible applications will be awarded on a first-come, first-served basis.
I need help filling out my application. Where can I get help?
The Small Business Development Center is available to provide professional expertise and guidance. Learn more here, or you can sign up directly here: https://mnsbdc.ecenterdirect.com/signup They will provide confidential application assistance free of charge. You may use any other assistance provider you wish, but no assistance provider, whether free or fee-based, can guarantee you will receive a grant.
I am uploading files to the application. Do I need to do anything special to them?
Only PDF, DOC, DOCX, PNG, JPG, JPEG, GIF files are supported in this application. If you try to submit a file in another format, the file may be rejected. Make sure to include your company name in the name of the file, e.g. SamsBakery-ScheduleC.pdf.
Who is selecting the winners? How will selections be made?
Rochester Area Economic Development, Inc. (RAEDI) will oversee the Rochester Innovation Grant Program. Businesses with Priority Characteristics will receive funding first, followed by businesses who submitted applications on a first-come, first-served basis, as laid out in the program guidelines.
We had some innovative improvements done, and the expenses were paid in July and August, but the invoices were dated June 30 and June 29. Would these expenses qualify for the grant?
The program guidelines call for quotes or receipts dated after July 1st, so if the vendor provides a receipt of payment after July 1st, that would qualify.
I have a recurring but irregular monthly invoice for my project. Can I submit an estimate for the total project, even if I haven't been invoiced yet?
Yes. You can submit an estimate based on existing billings, which your preliminary award amount will be based on, and the final award amount will be adjusted based on the final invoices.
Are nonprofit organizations eligible for this program?
No, non-profits are not eligible for this program.
Are cooperatives eligible for this program?
If cooperatives are structured to generate and distribute profits for the benefit of members or owners, they are eligible for this program.
Can ESOP (Employee Stock Ownership Plan) businesses apply?
If the ESOPs are structured to generate and distribute profits for the benefit of employees, they are eligible for this program.
My business leases space within the permanent physical location of another business (for example, a chair in a barbershop or a store within a mall, etc.). Is this considered a permanent physical location?
I am a resident of another state, but my business has a permanent physical location in Minnesota. Is my business eligible for this program?
No. The majority ownership of a business must be owned by one or more permanent residents of Minnesota.
What is the definition of "permanent resident of Minnesota"?
For the purposes of this program, "permanent resident of Minnesota" means "resident" as defined by Minnesota Statutes (Minn. Stat. 290.01). The term “resident” means any individual who is domiciled in Minnesota or is domiciled outside the state who maintains a place of abode in the state and spends, in the aggregate, more than one-half of the tax year in Minnesota, unless the individual or the spouse of the individual is in the armed forces of the United States.
The term “abode” means a dwelling maintained by an individual, whether or not owned by the individual and whether or not occupied by the individual, and includes a dwelling place owned or leased by the individual’s spouse.
I am a permanent resident of Rochester, but my business has a permanent physical location outside of Rochester. Is my business eligible for this program?
No. Businesses are required to have a permanent physical location within the city limits of Rochester.
I am a permanent resident of Minnesota and I own more than one business located in Rochester. Can I submit separate applications for each business, and can my businesses be eligible for separate awards?
No, an individual business owner cannot submit separate applications for separate businesses. Any owner with more than a 20% stake in a business is only eligible for one grant.
How do I know if I am in good standing? What does "in good standing" mean?
"In good standing" means that your business is current and active with any required business registrations with the Office of the Secretary of State and that no Minnesota tax liens have been filed against your business with the Minnesota Secretary of State.
You can look up your registration. Please have your file number available when filling out the grant application.
Note that, depending on your business structure, you may not be required to be registered with the Secretary of State. In that case, you will be deemed “in good standing” with the Minnesota Secretary of State. For example, if you are a sole proprietorship operating under your own name, you do not have to be registered with the state.
What if my business was not in good standing on July 1, 2021, but since then, my business no longer has any Minnesota tax liens and/or I renewed my required business registration with Secretary of State? Is my business eligible for this program?
Yes. Per the application, your business has to be "in good standing" at the time of application to be eligible to receive a grant from this program, as long as it had previously be registered with the State of Minnesota before July 1, 2021.
Do I need to show that my business is “in good standing” when I apply for a grant?
For the purposes of the grant application, you only need to attest you do not have a Minnesota tax lien filed against your business and that, if required, your business registration with the Minnesota Secretary of State is current as of your application being submitted. If you are selected for an award, you may be required to provide additional information verifying the tax status of your business.
I don’t know if I have a tax lien against my business. How do I find out?
You can visit the Office of the Secretary of State website to look for tax lien filings.
My do business under my own name. Do I need to be registered with the Secretary of State to be eligible for this program?
Not necessarily. If your business operates under your own name and not an assumed named or an LLC, S corporation, or other business formation, you do not need to be registered with the Secretary of State. If you are not required to be registered, you will be considered "in good standing" with the Secretary of State for the purposes of this program.
Are municipal liquor stores eligible for this program?
No. This program is limited to private for-profit businesses.
I filed for an extension for my 2020 taxes. How do I apply?
If you applied for an extension for your 2020 taxes, submit you application for extension in place of your Schedule C or eqivalent document. Submit the rest of the documents as requested in the application.
I am self-employed. I received – or am receiving – unemployment benefits through the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program. Am I ineligible for this program?
Not necessarily. However, your business must meet all other eligibility requirements, including demonstrating financial hardship, in order to be eligible. PUA benefits are not considered as part of this application, but cannot be used to cover expenses for the project that's under funding consideration by this program.
Can my business receive more than one grant?
No. You can only receive one grant per business.
Can my business partner with another business on a project, and receive more than one grant?
No. You can only receive one grant per project, regardless of the number of businesses involved.
I own or I am part-owner of multiple businesses that could be eligible for an award. Can each of those business apply to receive a grant?
No. Please note that the businesses will be considered in the order their applications are completed, meaning only the first business will receive funding.
I own a business with multiple locations. Can each of the locations be eligible to apply and receive a grant?
Does my home-based business qualify as "permanent physical location?"
Yes. Home-based businesses are eligible for this program.
What is the definition of a home-based business?
According to IRS Publication 587 a home-based business is one that uses the owner’s home (or space within the home) as its principal place of business. That is:
- It is used regularly and exclusively for administration or management of a trade or business, and
- The owner has no other fixed location where the business carries on a substantial amount of administration or management.
I am self-employed and/or an independent contractor. Am I eligible for this program?
Yes, as long as your business has a permanent physical location, and is not a home-based business, and you meet all other eligibility criteria. Otherwise you are not eligible.
Besides myself, my business does not have any employees. Am I eligible for this program?
My business has zero employees and/or hires independent contractors for some of its functions. Am I eligible for this program?
My business employs more than 50 employees but they all are employed part-time. Am I disqualified from this program?
Not necessarily. This program is limited to businesses with 50 or less full-time equivalent employees (FTE). Please consult with a tax or accounting professional on how to calculate the number of full-time equivalent employees your business employs. An FTE is generally considered to be 40 hours per week or 2080 hours per year.
My business only employs part-time employees. Am I disqualified from this program?
I am self-employed or an independent contractor, but my work is performed at the permanent physical location of another business. Am I eligible for this program?
Yes, as long as your business meets all other eligibility requirements.
What is the definition of "permanent physical location"?
Only businesses with a permanent physical location within the city limits of Rochester are eligible for this program. For the purposes of this program, "permanent physical location" means a non-mobile permanent facility such as an office, warehouse, storefront or other facility where the business carries on a substantial amount of administration or management of their business.
Businesses that operate primarily through a mobile operation, such as a mobile food stand, food truck, etc., are not eligible for this program unless they have a permanent physical location in the city limits of Rochester as well and have at least 50% of their sales within the City of Rochester.
Facilities that are in the home, in a space within the home, or in a structure on the same property as the home of the business owner are considered a home-based business, and are also qualified for this program.
My business is a for-profit farming operation. Am I eligible for this program?
Yes. If you are selected to receive an award, you may be asked for information that verifies your farm is operated for profit and is not a so-called “hobby farm.”
My business is a minority business enterprise and my business is also owned by a woman. How does my business falling under multiple categories for prioritization affect my odds of getting a grant?
If your business falls under multiple categories, your business will be awarded additional points for each category in which it qualifies.
My business does not meet any of the priority characteristics set by the City of Rochester. Am I still likely to receive a grant?
While it is possible that not all eligible applications will receive a grant, all eligible businesses should apply regardless of whether it meets the priority characteristics or not. Past grant programs have seen all eligible applications receiving funding.
Do I have to show a certification that my business is a minority business enterprise, or a veteran or women owned business to apply for this program?
No. If you disclose that your business may qualify under those categories, you may be required to provide additional information confirming the status of your business before receiving an award. Any official certification you received can be used as documentation, but it is not required to have this certification.
I do not want to disclose my status as a minority-, veteran-, or woman-owned business. Am I required to?
No. However, if you are a minority-, veteran-, or woman-owned business, and you want your business to be considered for the priority status those businesses are eligible for, you will need to indicate that on your application.
Is preference going to licensed businesses?
What is the definition of a Veteran being used to be eligible for the veteran-owned business grant?
Veterans must meet the definition of a veteran as stated in Minnesota Statute 197.447 that states a Veteran is:
- A citizen of the United States or a resident alien
- Separated under honorable conditions from any branch of the armed forces of the United States
- Served on active duty for 181 consecutive days or by reason of disability incurred while serving on active duty, OR:
- Met the minimum active duty requirement as defined by Code of Federal Regulations, title 38, section 3.12a, OR
- Has active military service certified under section 401, Public Law 95-202 certified by the United States secretary of defense as active military service and a discharge under honorable conditions must be issued by the secretary.
For more information, visit the MDVA website.
When will I know if I have been selected for a grant?
We expect to notify grant winners by the end of business on October 1, 2021. You will receive an email from RAEDI notifying you of the award.
If I win a grant, how will I get grant funds?
Once you have been selected, your grant will be awarded by RAEDI via check, sent to your mailing address as indicated on the application.
If I am not selected for a grant, will I be notified?
We will notify all applicants who provided an email address about the status of their application. However, due to the large volume of applications, we may not be able to respond to requests quickly.
What documentation will I be asked to provide?
After you have been selected for an award, you may be asked by RAEDI for documentation that verifies you are eligible to receive a grant. Some examples of documentation you may be asked to provide include – but are not limited to – the following: sales tax reporting, period statements from third-party sales platforms, merchant services statements, point of sale or register reports, third-party payroll processor reports, federal form 941/employer's quarterly federal tax return, or other state or federal payroll-related filings.
If I am selected, what kind of documents will I have to sign to get this grant money?
By completing the application, you are certifying that you are eligible to receive this grant and that the grant will be used for eligible uses only. Therefore, awards will be made without additional contracts or certifications.
What can the funds be used for?
These funds may be used to pay for new innovation projects, including (but not limited to) new websites for online ordering, physical space renovations, operations improvements, etc. Grants must be used to cover costs paid to a third party, and cannot be used for normal operational expenses, including (but not limited to) rent/mortgage payments, advertising fees, utilities, payments to suppliers, payroll expenses, other expenses incurred in the regular course of business, or any tax obligations. All uses must be exclusively for Minnesota operations. These funds cannot be used for the same expenses as other CARES Act funds.
Can I use these funds to purchase equipment?
Equipment would qualify if it was being used torespond to, prepare for, and prevent the COVID-19 pandemic. It cannot be equipment you would be purchasing otherwise.
Can the funds be used to pay business-related insurance deductibles?
Can the funds be used to repair my facility or equipment?
Can the funds be used to purchase equipment?
Possibly. If the grant is part of an innovation project to help the business prevent, prepare for, and respond to coronavirus pandemic, it would be eligible.
Can the funds be used to pay back taxes including property taxes?
Under any circumstances will I have to pay the grant back?
This is a grant - not a loan - and you will not be required to pay it back. However, the City of Rochester reserves the right to audit the use of funds and may conduct an audit check on a random selection of grant recipients. Grant recipients who are found to have violated the terms of the application process or grant agreement may be required to refund the city.
Is the amount of the grant taxable to the recipient business?
Please consult your accountant, lawyer, or other tax advisor. RAEDI is unable to provide tax advice.
I am self-employed, and I’m receiving unemployment benefits through the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Program. If I receive a grant from this program, how will that affect my unemployment benefits?
Please refer to Unemployment Insurance rules and procedures for how to report a grant as income when you request your weekly benefit.
What kind of businesses can not apply for a grant through this program?
The following businesses would not be eligible:
- A franchise business with locations outside of Minnesota.
- A 501(c)(3), 501(c)(6), or other non-profit business.
- A business deriving income from passive investments without operational ties to operating businesses.
- A business primarily focusing on speculative activities based on fluctuations in price rather than the normal course of trade.
- A business earning more than half of its annual net revenue from lending.
- A business engaging in pyramid sales, where a participant's primary incentive is based on the sales of an ever-increasing number of participants.
- A business engaging in activities prohibited by federal law or applicable law in the local jurisdiction of the business.
- A business engaging in gambling enterprises, unless the business earns less than 50% of its annual net revenue from lottery sales.
- A business late in payment to any creditors by 60 days or more as of July 1, 2021.
- A business permanently closed at the time this application is submitted.
- A business wholly owned by City of Rochester employees.
- A business owned in-whole or in-part by RAEDI employees.
Do I have to create or retain jobs for a grant?
No, there are no job creation requirements for the Rochester Innovation Grant Program.
Can the funds be used for business acquisition and/or the purchase of land or building?
How long will this program last?
Projects funded by this program must be completed by November 5, 2021. We expect all funds to be disbursed by November 15, 2021.
I applied for and received a grant from another source (local or city government, nonprofit, foundation, etc.). Can I still receive a grant from the state through this program?
I received a Paycheck Protection Program loan or an Economic Injury Disaster Loan (or any other federal SBA loan or grant, including an EIDL Advance). Am I still eligible for a grant from this program?
Yes, as long as the funds are being used to cover costs for the project under consideration for the RIGP.
If I receive a grant from this program, how does that affect my Paycheck Protection Program loan?
Please refer this question to your PPP loan servicer or financial advisor.
I received a Small Business Emergency Loan Program (SBEL) loan. Can I still receive a grant through this program?
I still have questions and I am not finding answers in this FAQ. Where do I send my questions?
You can send your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org. We will be reading all questions that come in and updating the FAQ as quickly as possible. Due to the large volume of inquiries, we may not be able to respond individually to each question in a timely manner.