Business assistance

Hennepin County provides assistance to businesses and municipalities through a variety of programs designed to assist businesses, promote economic development, create and retain jobs, and cultivate entrepreneurs.

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Business District Initiative

2015 Business District Initiative

Hennepin County is seeking proposals from suburban municipalities, housing and redevelopment authorities, economic development authorities, and port authorities for the implementation of strategies to enhance the economic vitality of priority small business districts and main streets.


Thriving commercial main streets and small business districts provide important goods and services, create a sense of place, and help make communities desirable and productive.  Small businesses produce considerable tax revenue, provide jobs, and serve as hubs of activity ini suburban communities.  Successful business districts also provide opportunities to foster entrepreneurship and help support the region's innovation economy.

Eligible uses

  • Business recruitment
  • District-wide marketing, branding, and/or promotion initiatives
  • District-wide wayfinding planning, design and implementation
  • Technical assistance for business districts or individual businesses (including but no limited to special service district or business association establishment; financial, legal, or tax-related services; merchandising, marketing, and social media assistance)
  • Small business incubators
  • Design and/or implementation of street furniture and/or other enhancements
  • Building facade improvements

Project summary (PDF)

Full guidelines (PDF)

How to obtain RFP documents

RFP documents will be released in May/June 2015

Contact or 612-348-2205

Common Bond Fund

The Common Bond Fund is a revenue bond financing program for growing manufacturing companies in suburban Hennepin County. The fund is designed for profitable owner-occupied manufacturing facilities whose owners provide personal guarantees. Any owner-occupied manufacturing business expanding in or relocating to Hennepin County can submit a request.

Potential projects can include the following:

  • Land acquisition
  • New facility construction
  • Additions to existing facilities
  • Purchase and renovation of existing structures
  • Purchase of production equipment

The program provides long-term fixed-rate financing to businesses at reasonable interests rates. Rates on tax-exempt bonds are approximately equal to the 20-year T-Bill. Terms may be for 15 to 30 years, depending upon the assets acquired. These bonds are rated "A+" by Standard & Poor, and therefore offer lower interest rates.


Hennepin County and the City of Minneapolis approve projects based upon the financial strength, credit worthiness and public purpose served. A representative from the county or city staff will handle requests from initial inquiry through post-closing monitoring. The city in which the project is located must approve the project.

The public approval process takes approximately 90 to 120 days, and no special requirements from Minneapolis are placed upon projects located outside of the city.

Contacts for more information

If you have questions or requests for more information contact:

Economic development strategy

The 2012 Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (PDF) results from local planning processes designed to guide the Hennepin-Carver Workforce Investment Board, economic development efforts, help create jobs, foster more stable and diversified economies, and improve living conditions.

The strategy seeks to focus economic development and associated infrastructure investments, employment and training, environmental protection, and planning and delivery of transportation services to improve the economic self-sufficiency of Hennepin County.

Every other year, the Hennepin-Carver Workforce Investment Board, through its Business and Economic Development Committee, updates the strategy.

Economic Gardening program


CEO Forum
Robert Hansen, co-founder and CEO, Hansen Engine Technologies

Wednesday, May 20, 2015
7:30 to 9:00 a.m.
Northeast Bank, Walter C. Rasmussen Community Room
77 Broadway Street NE, Minneapolis

What is it?

  • Helps a growth company through high-end technical assistance by providing research teams with strategy focus.
  • Targets a community’s existing businesses that are well-positioned for growth.
  • 2014-2015 Program started in October 2014

What businesses are eligible?

  • Privately held businesses
  • 10-99 employees
  • Revenue between $1M-$50M
  • Ready to transition from small to large — past start-up stage but not yet mature
  • Appetite and aptitude for growth

How does it work?

The Economic Gardening program provides:

  • Technical assistance
  • Chief operating officer (CEO) round tables and forums
  • Referral networks

For more information

County Contact
Hennepin County Ron White
Carver County Ron White
Scott County Brad Davis
Ramsey County Denise Beigbeder
Anoka County Karen Skepper

For additional information on economic gardening

Contact Patrick Connoy at or 612-348-2215.
Register online at Edward Lowe Foundation

Regional Economic Gardening Network

Program Description

Recognizing the need for sustained growth of second-stage growth companies, the counties of Hennepin, Carver, Anoka, Scott and Ramsey have established the Regional Economic Gardening Network to provide select growth companies with no cost business research and enhancement. Companies who participate in this opportunity must show potential for job creation and longer-term business growth.

Hennepin County previously funded a successful “pilot” Economic Gardening project which assisted in the design of this current partnership program. Hennepin County is the lead agency in coordination with Ramsey, Scott, Anoka and Carver Counties. The counties implement the Edward Lowe Foundation’s Economic Gardening Program that provides practical tools and techniques designed specifically for growing regional second stage companies within the counties including provision of:

  • Custom research: 40-60 hours per chief operating officer (CEO) of four “pods” of 15 selected core companies (for a total of 45 companies)
  • CEO round table sessions: 8 half-day sessions for the CEO’s of the 60 selected core companies
  • CEO forum events: 4 sessions for CEO's of up to 100 additional companies per session

Open to Business initiative

As part of a broader strategy to promote economic development, create and retain jobs, and cultivate entrepreneurs, the Hennepin County Housing and Redevelopment Authority (HCHRA) is soliciting proposals from suburban Hennepin municipalities interested in launching or expanding a small business and entrepreneur technical assistance initiative called Open to Business.

Open to Business was originally conceived as a partnership between the City of Brooklyn Park and the nonprofit community development organization Metropolitan Consortium of Community Developers (MCCD). Through this partnership, MCCD provides direct, one-on-one technical assistance services to Brooklyn Park’s entrepreneurs and small businesses. The range of services includes:

  • Business plan development
  • Feasibility studies
  • Cash flow and financing projections
  • Marketing
  • Loan request preparation
  • Advocacy with lending institutions

The Open to Business model has since expanded to multiple cities within Hennepin County, including: Bloomington, Brooklyn Center, Brooklyn Park, Eden Prairie, Edina, Golden Valley, Hopkins, Independence, Maple Plain, Medina, Minnetonka, New Hope, Osseo, Richfield, Robbinsdale, St. Anthony and St. Louis Park.

Effective outcomes for small business

Open to Business has supported more than 250 small businesses with technical assistance, consultation and financial support, including $2.7 million in direct and facilitated financing to Hennepin county businesses and $7.8 million in leveraged capital. The program has preserved or added new employment for 233 workers, served 538 businesses/entrepreneurs, and provided more than 3,500 hours of technical assistance. In 2013, 51% of Open to Business clients were women, and 46% were minorities.

What funding is available?

Because of the success of Open to Business, the HCHRA has committed funds to support the efforts of suburban Hennepin municipalities interested in pursuing this initiative. MCCD provides Open to Business services to participating municipalities’ entrepreneurs and small businesses for a flat annual fee. The base annual fee is $10,000 for municipalities with populations between 30,000 and 60,000. Municipalities also may partner with other cities and share the annual cost if their population is less than 30,000. For populations over 60,000, fees will be negotiated on a case-by-case basis.

The HCHRA has $75,000 available for one-to-one matching grants up to $5,000 for municipalities or collaborations of municipalities who wish to provide an annual pilot of Open to Business in their community. Funds are available on a one-time basis.

Who do I contact for more information?

Patricia Fitzgerald at, economic and community development manager
Hennepin County Housing, Community Works and Transit

Open to Business eflyer (PDF)

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