Northwest Angle businesses are facing acute economic stress due to COVID-19 travel restrictions between the US and Canada

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar and Tina Smith introduced legislation to provide relief to Minnesota businesses in the Northwest Angle that are hurting due to coronavirus (COVID-19) travel restrictions between the United States and Canada. The Remote Recreational Small Business Interruption Program Act would provide forgivable loans to small businesses in exclaves of the contiguous United States near the Canadian border. 

In order to safely reach the Northwest Angle, Americans must travel through Canadian territory by automobile at a border crossing. The alternative is a 40 mile boat trip across Lake of the Woods. Sens. Smith and Senator Klobuchar have urged cooperation between the U.S. and Canadian governments to find solutions to allow limited and safe travel along the northern border for those who live and work in border communities.

US-Canada border restrictions have put Angle businesses in a particularly difficult position because most U.S. citizens can’t reach the Angle by land. This has effectively barred tourists from the exclave. Even as many other businesses across Minnesota have been able to at least partially reopen, Angle businesses remain largely closed because of the border situation.  

“Northwest Angle small businesses and workers are facing enormous challenges due to the coronavirus pandemic,” Klobuchar said. “It’s important that we help these businesses and their employees get through this temporary disruption in economic activity to the region and our legislation, the Remote Recreational Small Business Interruption Program Act, will do just that.”

"We need to support Northwest Angle businesses and workers during this historic health and economic crisis," Smith said. “Angle businesses have been isolated from many of their customers since COVID-19 related travel restrictions were put in place. This has been devastating for many Minnesota businesses owners who are struggling to get by. I'm urging the Senate to work together and move my bill forward during this urgent time for action." 

"The Lake of the Woods area is very appreciative Senators Smith, Klobuchar and Murray have introduced a bill to assist the hard working businesses of Minnesota's NW Angle.  Business owners are facing unprecedented hardships due to the U.S. / Canada border closure leaving no way for visitors to drive to the Angle with no end in sight.  This financial assistance bill is very timely." --Joe Henry, Executive Director, Lake of the Woods Tourism

Under the bill, forgivable loans would be available for up to 75% of last year’s revenue, if a business’s revenue dropped by at least half during the second quarter of 2020.  Loan forgiveness would be reduced by amount received under the PPP or other federal loan forgiveness programs. 

The Remote Recreational Small Business Interruption Program Act is also supported by Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.).  The bill is a companion to legislation introduced by Rep. Collin Peterson in the U.S. House of Representatives.

You can access bill text here.