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
- 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 email@example.com, economic and community development manager
Hennepin County Housing, Community Works and Transit
Open to Business eflyer (PDF)