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Affordable Commercial Incentive Fund

Place-based investments to support small business growth and local economic prosperity

The Affordable Commercial Incentive Fund (ACIF) aims to grow long-term economic opportunity and support community wealth building by supporting development projects that provide affordable commercial spaces and ownership opportunities for locally owned small businesses.

In 2023, up to $500,000 was available to support eligible projects in Blue Line Extension Corridor communities within one-half mile of planned stations.

The Hennepin County Board of Commissioners approved this funding as one early strategy to strengthen local businesses and grow community prosperity in areas that will be served by the Blue Line Extension light rail project.

Amount available

A total of up to $500,000 was available in 2023 for projects within one-half mile of planned METRO Blue Line extension stationsOne award of $500,000 was made to the Swank Eatery project in MinneapolisLearn more about the project here

  • Applications have closed for 2023. Information will be posted if additional funding rounds are planned.

  • Another program cycle has not been confirmed at this time. Please check this webpage, or sign-up below for development notifications.

Program guidelines

Projects may include a range of new construction or redevelopment projects that create business incubators and accelerators or provide long-term affordable commercial space through community or cooperative ownership, commercial condominiums, or other innovative ways to offer below market leases or ownership opportunities for a minimum of three businesses and deliver other community benefits.

The most competitive projects:

  • Stimulate investment in and by low-income communities and communities of color to help address economic disparities
  • Support the resilience and growth of local businesses and their ability to generate prosperity, economic opportunity, and employment opportunities in their communities

2023 Affordable Commercial Incentive Fund Blue Line Extension program guidelines (PDF)

Map of project areas for 2023 ACIF funding


Program background

Previously known as the Community Investment Initiative, this program originated as a pandemic recovery strategy. In August 2022, the Hennepin County Board of Commissioners approved $10 million in pandemic relief funding to eighteen projects that will strengthen communities, accelerate economic recovery, and address disparities exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Over 79% of the funding was awarded to projects in low-income communities or communities of color, both in Minneapolis and suburban communities.

Community Impact

 infographic showing impact of the Community Investment Initiative.

In total, the Community Investment Initiative is expected to create 476,000 square feet of affordable commercial space. Of the 18 projects funded, seven are led by developers of color.

See all 2022 funding awards (PDF). 

Information and resources

View past program guidelines (PDF).

Feature story: Coliseum project highlights power of equitable development


Ryan Kelley