State secures $97 million in small business support

(ABC 6 News) – Minnesota is getting $97 million of federal money to grow small businesses. The state will receive this money in phases, over three years. 

Minnesota Governor Tim Walz stopped in Southern Minnesota today to celebrate these new programs set to help small businesses grow. Much of the discussion, however, revolved around shortages in housing and childcare.

These are issues that small business leaders say they still need a lot of help with. In the discussion Thursday, Northfield business owners said they had employees commuting from cities like Rochester because they could not find affordable housing locally.

Walz acknowledged that housing, childcare, and long-term care shortages contribute to labor shortages.

“We do believe that there are people on the sidelines who, with that quality childcare would re-enter the workforce. 

Last week we unveiled and are still rolling out a new program that Minnesota qualified for that we hope hits exactly some of these sweet spots where you’re at,” Walz said to a roundtable of small business leaders.

The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development will divide the $97 million sum into six programs.

First up is a loan guarantee program. The goal is to make it easier for small business owners to get loans by giving banks some extra security. In coming weeks and months, business owners could see loans that help them automate their business, a solution some owners are turning to because of ongoing labor shortages.

DEED Commissioner Steve Grove says the state’s goal is to dedicate half of this money to historically disadvantaged groups — like women and people of color.

“It is by far the biggest influx of money that we’ve ever been able to pull down from the Department of Treasury to help small businesses grow,” Grove said at the roundtable.

The state also launched a new website compiling resources for small businesses that are just starting out.