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Greater Dubuque Development Corporation, Northeast Iowa Community College through the COVID-19 Business Helpline, and the Center for Industrial Research and Service (CIRAS) have created a new Safe at Work program. The initiative will provide businesses with assistance in creating their own safe plans for the workplace and employees returning to work.

Greater Dubuque Development serves as a key partner in the creation of the Safe at Work plan and has produced a webinar for business leaders and Safe at Work booklet. The current Business Helpline (563-588-3350) established last month is also available to assist business owners with their workplace and employee questions.

The Business Helpline, developed to answer questions about federal, state and local funding, has assisted nearly 600 businesses of all sizes in northeast Iowa. In addition to sources of funding, the helpline has assisted with questions concerning unemployment, funding for rent and utilities, and USDA funding for ag businesses.

Several business owners, such as Ben Graham, owner of Graham’s Style Store in Dubuque, reported that having the helpline available to answer questions helped him to navigate the new economic climate and uncertainty.

“The Business Helpline answered the questions I had and the funding support arrived. Long-term, I am now able to keep all my employees. Now we're laying the groundwork for e-commerce, web development and an eBay store in the short-term,” Graham explained.

Northeast Iowa Community College Vice President of Business and Community Solutions, Wendy Mihm-Herold, Ph.D., emphasized that the Safe at Work initiative and Business Helpline are resources in place for the business community for the duration of the COVID-19 crisis.

“The businesses we serve are absolutely critical to the economic well-being of communities throughout northeast Iowa. We are partnering with local organizations to provide any assistance we can to help companies overcome these difficult times and new challenges,” she said.

Safe at Work resources are available at the Greater Dubuque website, www.greaterdubuque.org/safe.Business owners may call the Business Helpline at (563) 588-3350 between 8:30 a.m. – 4 p.m., Monday through Friday, or email at sbhelpline@nicc.edu.

Also, for Dubuque County-based businesses outside of the City of Dubuque, a new loan assistance program is available. This Emergency Loan Program is designed to assist small businesses that have 25 or fewer employees with a “brick-and-mortar” location, have been in business for at least two years and have loss of income due to COVID-19. Applicants may call the Business Helpline.