We're Here for You, Central Minnesota: COVID-19 Updates


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COVID-19 Relief Grant Opportunity

To give toward the Randall flood recovery effort, click this link

 NOTE: The application for this grant opportunity is now closed.


Microenterprise Grants

Pandemic Recovery Funding for Central Minnesota Small Businesses

The opportunity to apply for a special one-time round of funding for Central Minnesota's smallest businesses is now closed.

Thanks to a special grant from the Otto Bremer Trust, one-time grants of up to $10,000 will be awarded to businesses that suffered pandemic-related disruptions and losses. This $500,000 program was designed to support microenterprises businesses with five or fewer full-time employees and less than $750,000 in annual gross revenue. The effort prioritized …

  • businesses owned by women, veterans, and community members of color
  • businesses located in small towns and rural areas
  • businesses that opened just prior to or in the early stages of the pandemic
  • businesses that did not access or were not eligible for prior government COVID relief programs.

Businesses without full-time employees were eligible to receive up to $5,000, and businesses with full-time employees were eligible for up to $10,000.

Use of Funds

Awards to successful grantees can be used for a range of past, current or future expenses. This could include operational expenses such as payroll, mortgage, rent or utilities, equipment and supplies, inventory, and other expenses. Additional eligible expenses could include cleaning, equipment, supplies, or infrastructure, or it could offset pandemic-related costs such as digital technologies, website and online infrastructure, marketing to new customers, health and safety upgrades, and others. Owners simply need to make the case that their investment will support the health and viability of their business.

We anticipate rewarding up to 70 small business grants and expect this to be a highly competitive grant cycle in which we will be unable to fund every inquiry. Applications were scored based on the priorities outlined above and on the following eligibility requirements:

  • The business is considered a microenterprise, with five or fewer full-time employees and annual gross revenue less than $750,000.
  • The business owner can demonstrate annual revenue of at least $25,000.
  • The business is owned and operated by resident(s) of, and physically located within, the Initiative Foundation's region of 14 counties and two sovereign tribal nations in Central Minnesota.
  • The business was operating during the pandemic and is currently open.
  • The business owner is able to demonstrate at least one impact caused by the pandemic such as closure orders, loss of revenue, increased costs, etc.



Ismail Mohamed
Enterprise Academy Program Officer


Jessy Beto
Program Specialist
(320) 631-2057


Brian Voerding
Vice President
for Inclusive Entrepreneurship
(320) 631-2006