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The state of Minnesota has announced $2.5 million in grants for cultural mall operators who have suffered hardships from the COVID-19 virus.

Most of the 12 recipients are in Minneapolis, with two in St. Paul and one in St. Cloud. The money was part of a nearly $63 million small-business relief program signed by Gov. Tim Walz during this year’s special legislative session.

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The grants range from $110,000 to $250,000 for mall operators, whose facilities have a combined total of more than 1,150 tenants.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has created undue hardships for small-business owners,” said DEED Commissioner Steve Grove. “These grants will provide much needed help to many of Minnesota’s cultural malls, which are economic, cultural and civic cornerstones of their communities.”

Under the terms of the program, the money must be used to make subgrants to existing tenants, with at least 50% used to forgive their rent. Owners of more than one cultural mall facility or operation are eligible to receive up to $250,000 per separate cultural mall facility or operation. A single cultural mall facility can’t receive more than the maximum award of $250,000.

Those receiving grants are:

24 Mall LLC/Village Market, Minneapolis: $250,000

Al Karama Mall, Minneapolis: $187,500

Global Center LLC, St. Cloud: $110,000

Hmong Village Shopping Center, St. Paul: $250,000

Hmongtown Marketplace, St. Paul: $250,000

JigJiga Business Center/Plaza Verde, Minneapolis: $117,500

Karmel Mall, Minneapolis: $250,000

Madina Management Group, Minneapolis: $177,500

Mercado Central, Minneapolis: $250,000

Midtown Global Market, Minneapolis: $250,000

Plaza Mexico, Minneapolis: $250,000

Riverside Mall Inc., Minneapolis: $157,500

Hmong Village, one of the recipients, had reduced rent for its 200 vendors by 50% from April through June. The grant will help offset that and cover some other operating expenses, said general manager Thomas Herr. It marks the first COVID financial aid the Hmong mall has received.

The pandemic and the civil unrest and looting that followed the May 25 death of George Floyd were a double punch for the mall, which houses offices and vendors selling produce, prepared food and general merchandise, Herr said.

“It scared people from coming here to shop,” he said.

Customers are slowly coming back, he said, estimating current traffic at about 60 to 70% of its normal levels.

“We are very pleased and grateful,” Herr said. “This means a lot to us.”

Staff writer Shannon Prather contributed to this report.

David Chanen • 612-673-4465