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Small businesses in north Minneapolis are barely making enough money to keep the lights on. Still, local foundations and corporate institutions that say they assist blighted communities make grants to non-profits in a misguided effort to assist small businesses. This shows us that someone doesn’t have the acumen to understand how small businesses works, especially in north Minneapolis; and secondly how is it possible that a non-profit agency can build capacity for a for-profit business? With a principal of $300,000.00 and 9-years to grow with Compound Interest 12 time(s) annually, you’re looking a total of $429,741.47 (Calculation from Money Chimp.com)
by Donald W.R. Allen, II – Editor in Chief/The Independent Business News Network
Minneapolis, MN (IBNN/Business and Accountability/June 8, 2012)…There are some local non-profit “business focused” agencies that have had some success with working with local businesses in the Twin Cities. Northside Economic Opportunity Network (N.E.O.N.) and Minneapolis Economic Development Agency (MEDA) have – in IBNN’s opinion done the best as assisting small businesses in building capacity from the ground up. Although MEDA has become almost “self-serving” as it pertains to the National Association of Minority Contractors in controlling dollars and programs from the state to “administer” guidance, overall it has done very well. Another agency that seems to have “grown up” is the West Broadway Area Business Coalition, Erin and her staff seem to have an idea of what business looks like in north Minneapolis.
In 2003, Target (one of my favorite stores), left north Minneapolis after a short stint on Broadway Avenue citing high loses due to theft and lower than expected consumer base and below average revenues. But before Target left north Minneapolis – the forward thinking corporate staff of the retail giant made a huge one-time grant of $300,000.00 to assist small businesses on the north side and hushing some community members concerns about not having a Target in north Minneapolis.
IBNN contacted Target’s Jenna Reck for some clarity on what happened to the $300,000.00. Ms. Reck wrote the following:
“In August 2003, we closed the Target store at 701 W Broadway Ave. in Minneapolis after careful consideration of the location’s long-term financial viability. We remain committed to building strong communities everywhere we do business, including in our Minneapolis hometown. When the Minneapolis store closed, Target provided a one-time $300,000 grant to the Minneapolis Foundation to support the West Broadway Development. The funds remain with the Minneapolis Foundation as they finalize the details of a new program that will provide unique support to this community. It is our understanding that The Minneapolis Foundation will announce this program later this year. In addition to our partnership with the Minneapolis Foundation, Target continues to support the Minneapolis community through several Target store locations, non-profit partnerships, team member volunteers and Target School Library Makeover projects.”
The Minneapolis Foundation wrote the following in response to IBNN’s request for information from Target:
“Since 1915, The Minneapolis Foundation has partnered with generous individuals and families, effective nonprofits, engaged civic leaders and others to strengthen our community through charitable giving. In the past year through its Minnesota Helps Fund, The Minneapolis Foundation raised and distributed $1.7 million for tornado recovery efforts in North Minneapolis. (A summary report on the impact of that initiative is available at www.minnesotahelps.org.) In addition, our continued investments in North Minneapolis over the past three years have totaled over $5 million. These investments have helped transform education, promote economic vitality, and build social capital. One of our longstanding partners in the Minneapolis community is Target. Target provided the Minneapolis Foundation with a $300,000 grant to support the West Broadway Development. Since we received the grant, we have been working with Target and a variety of community agencies to determine how the funds could be used to provide the greatest benefit to the community in accordance with the original intent of the grant. By the end of June of this year, we will announce a new plan for distributing the funds in partnership with the Minnesota Black Chamber of Commerce. The purpose is to provide match funds, released by participating economic development or community development corporations, to existing small businesses of color. As part of the program, 80 percent of the funds will be directed toward African American businesses in north Minneapolis. Loans will be provided from this fund to support small minority businesses in obtaining financing, purchasing of inventory, marketing, communication and expansion in North Minneapolis. As details of the fund are finalized, the Minneapolis Foundation will post information on its website at www.MinneapolisFoundation.org.”
There remain some salient questions we must ask – both the Minneapolis Foundation and Target. There are some in the community that don’t think the tornado efforts hit the “target,” – no pun intended.
- Was the $300,000.00 grant banked in such a way that interest accrued over the last 9 years? (If so, how much?)
- What is the plan grant the money to the Minnesota Black Chamber of Commerce? Will the business community in north Minneapolis (not just the usual suspects) have access and a say in how the money is used?
- What are the business successes of the Minnesota Black Chamber of Commerce in the last 5-years? (If possible, name 5.)
- Who are the board of Directors for the Minnesota Black Chamber of Commerce? Do they have the combined knowledge to build capacity for Businesses in north Minneapolis?
There still remain some unanswered questions. IBNN has asked and as soon as we get a reply, we’ll post the information.