In March 2020 as Governor Tim Walz announced a shelter-in-place mandate to ensure the safety of Minnesotans, we also witnessed a rapid, profound economic impact on small businesses and entrepreneurs who had to close their doors. At the time, no one knew how long this would last and what the long-term impact would be for these businesses.
On March 26, 2020, NFG co-hosted a community listening session, along with The Jay and Rose Phillips Family Foundation of Minnesota, to hear first-hand the challenges that businesses, community members, and leaders were facing in the midst of this shut down. We heard loud and clear from the small business community that they were facing partial or, in many cases, complete income loss. In addition, business owners also expressed that it was difficult to navigate the opportunities that fell under the Federal CARES Act (e.g., SBA loans, PPP loans, etc.) and, due to the unknowns of the future, felt a loan was not a viable solution to meet their immediate needs.
We took this information to heart and set to work on creating an emergency fund dedicated to small businesses and social enterprises in North Minneapolis. We applied for funds through the MN Council on Foundation’s Disaster Recovery Fund, which distributed money to intermediaries and foundations that had capacity to re-grant those funds back into communities across the state. We also reached out to technical assistance providers to build out a team of individuals and organizations that could help business owners navigate additional financial resources, address human resource and unemployment concerns, understand their legal rights, and develop short- and long-term business plans. We worked to enlist the support of community members and NFG member representatives to build a grant committee.
We started with the initial investment of $150,000 secured from the MN Council on Foundations and received an additional grant of $100,000 from The Jay and Rose Phillips Family Foundation of Minnesota. With the $250,000 in hand, we released a grant application and notified business owners and technical assistance providers about the opportunity.
We had no idea that we would receive the volume of applications we did, which is indicative of the immense need for financial relief. We are proud to say that we funded every business that submitted an application that had a North Minneapolis address.
In total we supported 117 small businesses and raised $517,980 to support this effort.
MN Council on Foundations, The Jay and Rose Phillips Family Foundation of Minnesota, Thrivent Foundation, Mortenson Family Foundation, Wells Fargo Foundation, Maureen Bazinet Beck, US Bank Foundation
Danielle Tietjen Community Outreach and Communication | Folwell Neighborhood Association, Sarah Clyne Executive Director | Northside Funders Group, Elizabeth Coco Program Officer | The Jay and Rose Phillips Family Foundation of Minnesota, Felicia Perry Executive Director | West Broadway Business and Area Coalition, DeVon Nolen Primary | Bete’ Noire Consulting/NS Investment Group