Minnesota officials push for targeted small business grants

Minnesota politicians at the state, local and federal level said the city has benefited from various economic grants, but emphasized that there’s still room to better target the aid.

Speaking at The Hill’s Small Business Recovery Tour, Rep. Angie Craig (D-Minn.) said that while the financial support has helped many businesses, others haven’t benefitted.

“We need to make sure that equity is a part of this and folks are getting access across these programs,” Craig told The Hill’s Steve Clemons. “The pandemic shined a light on disparities in America.”

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Craig, a member of the House Small Business Committee, said that one reason minority-owned businesses have not gotten the money they need is because they have been in “a position of not being first in line for a lot of these loans” due to not having the necessary resources.

Thousands of small businesses across the country have received loans through the federal Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), though much of the funds in the first round of disbursements were snatched up by companies with strong ties to big banks that were able to facilitate the loan application process. Subsequent bills providing PPP funds addressed the program’s initial shortcomings.

State Sen. Eric Pratt (R) said at Tuesday’s event sponsored by Wells Fargo that Minnesota has approved three rounds of grants since June 2020 to help businesses.

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“In total, we will have put in in excess of $400 million into small business grants and support,” Pratt said, noting that the most recent round of grants range from $10,000 to $25,000.

Minneapolis Mayor Jacob FreyJacob FreyMinneapolis voters to decide on agency to replace police department Minnesota officials push for targeted small business grants The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - Texas Dems flee to Washington MORE (D) said that while such funding has helped, officials also want to be mindful about how the money is used.

“Minneapolis has been at the epicenter of a global reckoning around racial justice, and what we want to be working on is not just getting back to normal but blowing by it,” Frey said.

He noted that the COVID-19 pandemic hit Black- and minority-owned businesses particularly hard, and that economic assistance should be directed with that in mind.

“One of the first steps was not just making decisions ourselves, but making sure we are listening to a series of Black and brown leaders,” Frey said.

A June survey of U.S. small businesses by Alignable found that an increasing number of minority-owned businesses say they are unable to pay their rent.