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Initiative Quarterly

Foundation, DEED Deliver Small Business Relief Grants

June 19, 2020

The Initiative Foundation and the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) have forged a partnership to distribute hundreds of small business relief grants in Central Minnesota. The grants will be awarded lottery-style and will be provided to locally owned and operated businesses that can demonstrate financial hardship as a result coronavirus-related shutdowns.

The new grant money was made available when the Governor and Legislature agreed on a measure to provide $62.5 million to Minnesota-owned and operated small businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Half of the money is earmarked for Greater Minnesota and will be awarded by the six Minnesota Initiative Foundations. The remaining half will be awarded to businesses in the seven-county Twin Cities metropolitan area.

Businesses that employ 50 full-time workers or less will be eligible for grants of up to $10,000.

The funding mostly comes from the federal CARES Act, with a small amount, about $2 million, coming from the DEED emergency loan fund. For Greater Minnesota, DEED will manage the application and lottery-style award process, and the Minnesota Initiative Foundations will disperse the funds.

Additional requirements include:

  • $18 million for businesses with six or fewer full-time employees
  • $10 million for minority business enterprises
  • $2.5 million for veteran-owned businesses
  • $2.5 million for women-owned businesses
  • $2.5 million for operators of indoor retail and food markets with an ethnic cultural emphasis

The application period will begin on Tuesday, June 23, and close at 5 p.m. on Thursday, July 2, to fulfill the 10-day period required by the law. A randomized, computer-generated lottery process will be used to select eligible businesses that will receive awards. All awards will be administered by qualified local and regionally based nonprofit agencies, including the Minnesota Initiative Foundations. Grant funds can be used for working capital to support payroll expenses, rent, mortgage payments, utility bills and other similar business expenses.

To be eligible, businesses must have a permanent physical location in Minnesota and be majority owned by a permanent resident of Minnesota. Businesses must be able to demonstrate hardship as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak. Additional eligibility requirements and application information can be found online at DEED’s Small Business Relief Grants page.

“We’re grateful to the Legislature and Gov. Tim Walz for this much-needed relief effort, and for designating the Initiative Foundation to deliver millions of dollars in grants to Central Minnesota businesses," said Matt Varilek, Initiative Foundation president. “As always, our goal is to use our existing systems and processes to get these relief grants out the door and into the hands of eligible businesses as quickly as possible.”

About the Initiative Foundation

The Initiative Foundation exists to improve the quality of life and to build stronger communities within its 14-county region of Central Minnesota by offering business loans, grants, leadership training and donor services through its Partner Funds programs. Since 1986, the Initiative Foundation and its Partner Funds have invested multiple millions in the region through targeted grants and business financing investments.

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