Economic Development Fellowship
Minneapolis, MN
Peer Exchange Panel

Closing Gaps in Access to Knowledge Capital and Financial Capital for Minority Small Business Owners in Minneapolis.

City of Minneapolis’ Equity Focus
The City of Minneapolis fellowship team aims to close gaps in access to financial capital and knowledge capital for minority and women small business owners. The financial capital component of the program will connect business owners with the funding and financing needed to grow their business. The knowledge capital piece will provide business owners with training in business development topics including business planning, marketing and branding, accounting, website development, and contract procurement. The target for the City of Minneapolis’ investment will be targeted to high-growth potential businesses in the North Side of Minneapolis as a pilot approach with the goal of a city-wide roll-out in all underserved neighborhoods.

Recommendations from Technical Advisory Visit
The visiting advisory team observed the City of Minneapolis team has a solid understanding of the local lending landscape and business support organizations, as well as a large amount of qualitative research from the Bloomberg i-team about the needs of business owners in the city. However, the visiting team advised the City of Minneapolis to more clearly define the target audience for the program in order to better ensure its success.

The major recommendations from the panel were to 1) identify specific market opportunities to explore (e.g., growth industries, anchor institutions, or city procurement), 2) define a champion for the program at City Hall and develop a coordinated communications/marketing plan, and 3) leverage the City of Minneapolis’ procurement process to support the growth of minority businesses.

Specific strategies suggested by the advisory team include:

  • Develop an outline to execute an asset map of existing small business resources
  • Promote program success stories through social media
  • Create recognition signage for small business assistance recipients
  • Convene small businesses and service providers on challenges and obstacles to navigate city contracting/procurement
  • Study Boston’s minority business procurement program as a model
  • Develop contractor readiness programs (i.e. doing business with the government, bonding, joint venturing, bidding, cost estimating)
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