Duluth, Minnesota – {Friday, May 8, 2020}: The Entrepreneur Fund, Northland Foundation, and The Northspan Group, Inc. are pleased to announce they will be accepting grant applications for a second round of funding from the Small Business Relief Fund. Thanks to generous support from the Department of Iron

“We thank IRRR for its support and are excited to roll out this second round of funding,” said Shawn Wellnitz, Entrepreneur Fund CEO. “Enbridge’s support is also vital. These generous contributions will allow us to support many more businesses as they work through this crisis.”

Range Resources and Rehabilitation (IRRR), this second round will enable the three partners to support businesses across IRRR’s Taconite Assistance Area (TAA). Additional support from Enbridge Energy for the original round will help more business owners facing significant financial challenges resulting from the pandemic.

The second round will open for applications on Tuesday, May 12 at 8:00 AM and close the SAME DAY, Tuesday, May 12 at 8:00 PM. This second round uses a simplified application form to lessen burdens on business owners.

The grant guidelines are available now for review and preparation, here: http://info.entrepreneurfund.org/relieffund

The Entrepreneur Fund launched the Small Business Relief Fund in March 2020 with an open call to individual donors to seed the fund. An initial round, funded by the Minnesota Disaster Recovery Fund, Minnesota Power, Enbridge, North Shore Bank of Commerce, and several private donors, closed on April 23. The first round provided $45,000 in funding to 12 businesses across all seven counties of northeast Minnesota outside of Duluth and an additional $23,000 to seven businesses in Duluth, Cass County, Crow Wing County, and Douglas County, Wisconsin. Businesses who applied to the first round but did not receive funding must apply again using the new application form if eligible.

“When we confront challenges like the coronavirus, one of the most valuable things we can do is provide peace of mind for business owners,” said Tony Sertich, the President of the Northland Foundation. “We’re encouraged to see so many of our partners collaborating to find real solutions to support our local economies.”

The Small Business Relief Fund will provide direct grants up to $5,000 to small business owners in the TAA. The review committee will prioritize grants to:

  1. Be an existing small business, less than 5 FTEs.
  2. During the COVID-19 Pandemic, the Federal Government Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and State Government Small Business Emergency Loan programs do not fit.
  3. Businesses located within the Department of Iron Range Resources & Rehabilitation Taconite Assistance Area.
  4. Business affected by the disaster (all businesses; not only those included in the State of MN executive order).
  5. Priority will be given to those businesses that serve as a core community staple such as rural/community grocery stores, restaurants, downtown/main street retail or hospitality, etc.
  6. Fund review committee determination that the available grants will make a discernible impact on the sustainability of the business.

As business needs are identified, these grants could be paired with other resources, such as consulting guidance to manage the effects of the pandemic, as well as financial resources that may include flexible working capital loans from the Entrepreneur Fund and other local, state, and federal resources that become available.

“This support will support businesses who have slipped through the cracks of existing programs and need more help,” said Elissa Hansen, the President & CEO of Northspan. “We’re proud to work together with our partners to piece together solutions for businesses facing all types of situations.”

For more information, click here: http://info.entrepreneurfund.org/relieffund


About The Entrepreneur Fund

The Entrepreneur Fund is the resource for entrepreneurs in northeast Minnesota and northwest Wisconsin. The Entrepreneur Fund has fueled more than 14,000 businesses with expert support and funded over $48 million in loans since 1989. The Entrepreneur Fund is dedicated to strengthening entrepreneurship in the region, while also supporting and increasing economic development. Through this strategic approach, the Entrepreneur Fund promotes the entrepreneurial spirit and helps create economic wealth and diversity in northeast Minnesota and northwest Wisconsin. For more information, visit https://www.entrepreneurfund.org/.

About the Northland Foundation

The Northland Foundation is a publicly supported foundation serving seven northeastern Minnesota counties: Aitkin, Carlton, Cook, Itasca, Koochiching, Lake, and St. Louis, and all or parts of five Tribal Nations within the same geographic boundaries: Bois Forte Band of Chippewa, Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, Grand Portage Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe, and Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe. Through grantmaking, an operating program, business lending, and special initiatives, we help people and communities in our region to move forward together. For more information, visit https://northlandfdn.org/.

About The Northspan Group, Inc.

The Northspan Group, Inc. is a Duluth-based private non-profit development organization that has provided professional business, community, and organizational development consulting services since 1985. Northspan specializes in creative thinking, enterprising strategies, and systematic approaches to help businesses, communities, regions, and organizations prosper in a global economy. Our professional staff work cooperatively with economic and community development partners to leverage resources for measurable, sustainable results. For more information, visit https://www.northspan.org/.