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MN DEED accepting applications for emerging entrepreneurs program

The Minnesota Emerging Entrepreneur Program will provide grant funding for nonprofits that may not otherwise have access to funding and resources

By Brian Martucci

The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) is offering an exciting opportunity for state nonprofits equipped to issue loans to local businesses owned and operated by historically disadvantaged groups.

The department recently issued a request for applications to participate in the Minnesota Emerging Entrepreneur Program (MEEP), which provides grant funding for nonprofits “that will use these funds to make loans to Minnesota businesses majority-owned and operated by minorities, low-income persons, women, veterans, and/or persons with disabilities,” according to DEED’s website. Businesses owned and operated by individuals who identify as women may receive funding under the terms of the grant.

“These loans will help Minnesotans from communities that have historically struggled to access capital get the resources they need to start or grow businesses,” said Lt. Governor Tina Smith in a release that accompanied the announcement. “Expanding economic opportunities for communities of color, women, veterans and people with disabilities is essential to building an economy that works for everyone, everywhere in Minnesota.”

Part of a $35 million package passed this year by the gridlocked Minnesota legislature this year, MEEP is an outgrowth of the Urban Initiative Loan Program (UILP). UILP, a much smaller effort, focused exclusively on low-income areas of the Twin Cities. Applications from organizations serving low-income areas will continue to receive the highest priority under MEEP, but the program’s purview is now officially statewide.

MEEP proposals are due by 4 p.m. on September 30, 2016. This is a strict deadline — no late proposals allowed.

In the run-up to the deadline, DEED is planning at least three workshops for prospective applicants:

●     1 p.m. to 3 p.m., Monday, August 22, at the offices of the Brainerd Lakes Area Economic Development Corporation (CTC Room)

●     1 p.m. to 3 p.m., Tuesday, August 23, at the Intergovernmental Center in Mankato (Minnesota River Room)

●     1 p.m. to 3 p.m., Friday, August 26, at DEED’s home offices (Minnesota Room)

RSVPs are not required, but attendees should confirm meeting dates and times with DEED prior to making travel plans.

The RFP is open to any chartered nonprofit corporation, including 501(c)3 and 501(c)6 entities. Applying for a MEEP grant does not foreclose an entity’s ability to apply for other, unrelated DEED grants.