The Entrepreneur Fund, Northland Foundationand The Northspan Group are pleased to announce they will be accepting grant applications for a second round of funding from the Small Business Relief Fund. Through support from the Department of Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation (IRRR), the second round will ensure support to 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.  

“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.” 
The second round will open for applications on Tuesday and close the same day. A simplified application form will be used to lessen burdens on business owners. 
The grant guidelines are available for review and preparation:
The Entrepreneur Fund launched the Small Business Relief Fund in March 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, Wis. Businesses that 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,  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 five 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. Must be 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 Minnesota 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 and 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: