The Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis is working with the Initiative Foundation and eight additional partner organizations in central Minnesota to support equitable small business recovery from COVID-19, with a focus on entrepreneurs of color and businesses in low-income communities.
Brought together by the Initiative Foundation with support from the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, the group has formed a cohort to participate in training through the Reinventing Our Communities (ROC) program.
Participants in ROC take part in a 10-month program that highlights strategies to expand financing and access to credit training and offers technical assistance for small business owners of color and lower-income individuals.
“Small business ownership can be a powerful path to wealth, and our research shows large racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic wealth gaps in Minnesota,” said Minneapolis Fed President Neel Kashkari. “We look forward to working with knowledgeable local partners to strengthen central Minnesota’s small business sector.”
The central Minnesota cohort is focused on traditionally underserved small business owners, with a particular emphasis on those from low-income communities. By supporting more equitable pathways of growth for small businesses, the ROC program aims to create more equitable and sustainable regional economies.
The Central Minnesota cohort assembled by the Minneapolis Fed and the Initiative Foundation includes:
- Central Minnesota Community Empowerment Organization
- Greater St. Cloud Development Corporation
- Higher Works Collaborative
- Latino Economic Development Center
- Long Prairie Area Chamber of Commerce
- Mille Lacs Corporate Ventures
- St. Cloud State University
- U.S. Bank
Representatives from the Minneapolis Fed will support the Initiative Foundation and cohort members as they examine pervasive barriers to equitable small business recovery in central Minnesota, develop solutions informed by best practices and tested methods, and collaborate on paths forward that directly support small business owners of color, Native Americans, and others traditionally underserved. In particular, the cohort is building on the Initiative Foundation’s Enterprise Academy program, which provides 12 weeks of small business training, technical assistance, and potential access to financing for entrepreneurs from underserved communities in central Minnesota.
“As a community development financial institution and gap lender, the Initiative Foundation has a decades-long history of making access to capital more equitable in our mostly rural region of Greater Minnesota,” said Matt Varilek, president of the Initiative Foundation. “We’re honored to be working with the Federal Reserve System and our local partners on efforts to help even more people pursue the American dream of entrepreneurship.”
The Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis is one of 12 regional Reserve Banks that, with the Board of Governors in Washington, D.C., make up the Federal Reserve System, the nation’s central bank. The Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis is responsible for the Ninth Federal Reserve District, which includes Montana, North and South Dakota, Minnesota, northwestern Wisconsin and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. The Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis participates in setting national monetary policy, supervises numerous banking organizations, and provides a variety of payments services to financial institutions and the U.S. government.