The Enterprise Academy Receives Grant, Program to Expand into Brainerd and Mille Lacs Reservation
The U.S. Small Business Administration granted The Entrepreneur Fund and Initiative Foundation each $200,000 to provide direct technical assistance to low-income entrepreneurs.
The funds will assist entrepreneurs with financing in order to establish and expand their small business through the Program for Investment in Micro-Entrepreneurs, or PRIME.
The Initiative Foundation, based in Little Falls, will support the Enterprise Academy in St. Cloud and expand the program into Brainerd and the Mille Lacs Reservation. The Enterprise Academy is a 12-week, entrepreneurial development program that is cohort-based. The program is for disadvantaged entrepreneurs that offers customized training curriculum and coaching support, with the ultimate goal of preparing participants to access small business financing from either the Initiative Foundation or another lender, and was successfully piloted in St. Cloud in 2018.
The Entrepreneur Fund, which serves northeast and central Minnesota, along with northwest Wisconsin, will use the $200,000 grant to target services to minority, women, and low-income microentrepreneurs to provide extensive services including traditional 1:1 consultations and technical assistance, along with new virtual services including online learning platforms, virtual networking opportunities and virtual classroom settings for business classes/programs. This will extend the reach of services to rural areas and support a transitioning culture around social distancing needs.
For 2021, the Small Business Administration placed special emphasis on projects designed to offer training and technical assistance to strengthen economically disadvantaged businesses, particularly those projects serving entrepreneurs in opportunity zones, rural areas, and historically underutilized business zones.
This year, more than 100 organizations applied for Program for Investment in Micro-Entrepreneurs grants, which range from $75,000 t0 $250,000, and typically require at least 50% in matching funds or in-kind contributions. The grant was created by Congress as part of the Program for Investment in Microentrepreneurs Act of 1999. Grant funds will be made available on September 30th, and the project period for each grant is one year.