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Minnesota’s opportunity to help under-resourced small businesses rebuild

How we address income inequality depends on how well we support our small business communities.

Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash

The large social and cultural shifts that began after the murder of George Floyd – and the lingering economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic – have some of Minnesota’s small businesses feeling left behind as economic recovery continues.

Many small businesses still lack access to the support services they need to grow, hire and thrive in a changed economy. This limits opportunity and compounds the inequities that hold back small business owners.

How we address income inequality depends on how well we support our small business communities. We know we must scale capital availability and provide small businesses with essential resources, particularly for BIPOC and historically underrepresented communities.

We also know that Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) – nonprofit, mission-driven community lenders – are helping small business owners realize opportunities through community collaboration and partnership. These small business solutions – conceived and deployed by co-creation and community input – should foster inclusion for Minnesota’s communities and small businesses that have been historically under-resourced.

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Inclusion also means providing access and agency for these small business owners and communities. Entrepreneurs must be able to navigate the complexities of the small business support ecosystem and we must ensure we have the tools to help them succeed.

That’s why we – as mission-driven, nonprofit organizations – have partnered to create a blueprint for changing the way capital and resources flow to Minnesota’s small business communities.

Minnesota Inclusive Growth Fund

The Minnesota Inclusive Growth Fund (MIGF or Fund) is a new, collaborative small business financing initiative that provides small business loans and resources to for-profit businesses in the state of Minnesota.

MIGF is the product of a unique collaboration between five leading Minnesota-based small business support organizations, collectively called the Catalyst Coalition. The Fund is designed to support long-term recovery, growth, and business resiliency in low-to-moderate income and underbanked communities.

MIGF is designed to give Minnesota small business owners new opportunities for recovery and growth in the wake of transformative economic change. The Fund helps equip small businesses with the financing and technical assistance support required to meet the unique rebuilding and recovery needs of the communities they serve.

The goal for MIGF is the near- and long-term success of the businesses that sustain communities and create economic impact in Minnesota. We want to see businesses remain open, creating good paying jobs and supporting their communities on a sustainable path toward greater resiliency.

About the Fund

The Fund offers two types of loans for small businesses, one for businesses seeking working capital and another for growth-stage businesses seeking a loan for capital expenditures. To be eligible, small businesses must employ 20 or fewer full-time equivalent employees or have less than $3 million in revenue in 2019.

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In addition, businesses must have suffered a direct economic disruption because of COVID-19 or civil unrest in a way that has materially impacted operations, with an emphasis given to businesses located in low-to-moderate-income areas and under-resourced communities served by the participating mission-driven lenders.

Small business owners can learn more about the fund at www.mngrowthfund.com.

A community-driven, community-informed solution

This type of collaboration is an example of the transformational change we need to better support Minnesota’s small businesses. Without implementing collaborative, community-driven solutions like MIGF, persistent gaps in access and agency will continue to hold back Minnesota’s small business communities and make economic recovery more difficult.

We have the opportunity and the will to do the hard work of improving access to both financial and non-financial resources in our small business communities. Together we can change the narrative and commit ourselves to helping increase economic mobility for all Minnesotans.

Anisha Murphy, Esq. is vice president of Community Advancement, Community Reinvestment Fund, Gene Gelgelu is president & CEO of African Economic Development Solutions (AEDS), Henry Jiménez, is the executive director of Latino Economic Development Center (LEDC), Alfredo Martel is president & CEO of Metropolitan Economic Development Association (MEDA) and Warren McLean is president of Northside Economic Opportunity Network (NEON).