Minneapolis mayor highlights proposed small business investment
Mayor Jacob Frey held a press conference at Wendy’s House of Soul, describing the federal dollars he wants to invest in small businesses and black business owners.
MINNEAPOLIS – Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey is proposing a $ 37 million federal bailout investment to help small businesses in the city.
The mayor held a press conference Thursday to announce his draft spending plan Thursday at Wendy’s House of Soul, joined by several local small business owners.
Frey said he wanted to use the $ 37 million for further investment in economic recovery, focused on supporting small businesses, investing in black-owned businesses and black land ownership, skills training and placement, and investments in designated cultural districts of Minneapolis. These allocations would be part of a larger proposal of $ 89 million for these federal dollars. More details on his proposed expenses can be found online.
“The big news is this,” Frey said Thursday. “Our city is coming back, we are bouncing back in a big way.”
Frey said the federal bailout dollars are an “opportunity” to support businesses and workers who have suffered during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“This money is shaped to revive our city,” he said. “This money is shaped to bring us back in an extraordinary way.”
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The Minneapolis Forward Community Now Coalition helped decide on funding priorities, Frey said.
He said a key area identified was a need for financial support not only for black business owners, but specifically for them to own the property on which their business is located. Part of its proposal includes a $ 10 million business development fund for this purpose.
“Because of their great work, property values are increasing,” Frey said. “Rents are skyrocketing and the people who made these wonderful neighborhoods to start with are getting the boot with the relocation.”
An additional $ 17 million is proposed for direct assistance to businesses and workers, to repay loans and to ensure that some businesses that have closed have the opportunity to reopen quickly.
Frey said one in four Minneapolis residents have filed for unemployment, so a workforce development program needs to be up and running to get people back to work and place people in open jobs. For this reason, the mayor also offers an ambassador program “to ensure that these community bonds are bridged from the start”.
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Funds would also be allocated to the city’s six cultural districts, Frey said.
“We want to make sure these areas are revitalized,” he said. “Sadly but really, many of the areas hardest hit by the pandemic are the same businesses and halls that were hit hardest by the unrest following the murder of George Floyd.”
Frey highlighted his Guaranteed Basic Income program, which is currently in pilot mode. It allocates $ 3 million to pay $ 500 per month to 200 families.
“These are significant sums and a significant relief going to communities at a critical time,” Frey said.
The Mayor took a moment to applaud Heather Warfield and Wendy’s House of Soul as one of the many small businesses that have come through the difficult past year.
“I want to express my appreciation to them and all the work they have done during this time,” he said.
Owner Wendy Puckett’s sister Warfield spoke briefly, saying, “We were very lucky. We were able to keep our doors open, we were able to keep all of our staff.”
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Kenya McKnight Ahad, President and Founder of the Black Women’s Wealth Alliance, also spoke. Her organization serves black women entrepreneurs in northern Minneapolis. Ahad thanked the mayor for listening to his group’s ideas.
“We came together last year to really push forward this economic recovery and the kind of impact it needs to have on black, brown, native and immigrant communities in our city,” she said. “What you’re hearing today is just the beginning. Place, it’s not the end. It’s a starting point we’re really proud of.”