More money for Minnesota entrepreneurs

As we showed in our “One Job at a Time” coverage last month, when entrepreneurs need money these days, they often wind up in the offices of a variety of Minnesota non-profits.

This week, 13 of those organizations got a $4.5 million shot in the arm to do more lending. The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development announced how it was distributing money Congress appropriated a year and a half ago to ease the credit crunch for small businesses.

Finding money from private lenders has been harder in the past few years than it used to be, but a number of organizations have tried to supplement bank and other lending with revolving loan funds of their own. And some of those showed up on the DEED list.

One of the most active organizations in the state for helping entrepreneurs with small loans has been the Entrepreneur Fund in Virginia, which last year made $1.5 million in loans to small businesses. The loans varied from $2,000 to $150,000, including money, for example, for Catherine and Gary Branville, who returned to the Iron Range to take over a store in Virginia.

The Entrepreneur Fund (it’s name is changing from Northeast Entrepreneur Fund because it has expanded into northwestern Wisconsin) will get $515,000 from the state to lend in a similar manner.

The biggest recipient of the new money is the Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation in Owatonna, which is receiving $926,000.

“This is huge for us,” said business development director Diane Lewis. She said the foundation makes loans of up to $150,000 if they are matched by other sources.

The new money is targeted at entrepreneurs who are women, minorities or living in areas the state considers economically distressed. It is aimed at operations employing fewer than 50 people.

The other recipients:

Milestone Growth Fund Inc., Minneapolis, $233,000.

Metropolitan Consortium of Community Developers, Minneapolis $295,000.

Neighborhood Development Center, St. Paul, $266,000.

WomenVenture, St. Paul, $112,000.

Sparc, St. Paul, $135,000.

Midwest Minnesota Community Development Corp., Detroit Lakes, $628,000.

African Development Center of Minnesota, Minneapolis, $272,000.

Metropolitan Economic Development Association (MEDA), Minneapolis, $309,000.

Initiative Foundation, Little Falls, $407,000.

Latino Economic Development Center, Minneapolis, $325,000.

Headwaters Regional Development Commission, Bemidji, $77,000.

More details here on the state’s Emerging Entrepreneurs Fund.

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