Superior’s City Council is directing the administration to come up with a plan to expand its micro-grant program designed to help small businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Councilors would like to see eligibility and funding availability expanded to meet the needs of the business community.

As of 4:30 p.m. on Tuesday, May 5, the city had already distributed $66,474 from its Small Business Grant Program to help 53 small businesses in Superior, said Jason Serck, economic development, port and planning director. In addition, $5,310 in license fees had been waived.

Of the 65 businesses that applied, Serck said about a dozen didn’t qualify for the $1,500 grant.

“We’ve had a few folks that work in salons that rent chairs that didn’t quite meet the mark, so we didn’t allow for that,” Serck said. “We were not funding those.”

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Tattoo shops had similar experiences with the program, and people who work in their homes didn’t qualify because they lacked a brick and mortar location, Serck said.

Retailers, bars, restaurants and salons primarily benefited from the program.

Participation in the program now means businesses are not eligible to receive additional grants from the program for one year. The Small Business Grant Program provides up to $25,000 to help small businesses remodel and expand.

“I think this has been a very good success,” Serck said. “We've done some real good here. Hopefully this will kind of get out that we have a little bit of money left.”

Councilor Nicholas Ledin proposed bringing the issue back for discussion of possibly expanding the program to help more businesses hurt by the pandemic. Councilor Jack Sweeney agreed, and the Council approved directing the administration to develop an expanded program.

Councilor Jenny Van Sickle said she would like to see city officials remove the requirement that businesses have a brick and mortar location.

The Council plans to discuss the expansion of the recovery fund when it meets May 19.