MEDA receives more than $700,000 in grant money to develop online system for Minnesota minority entrepreneurs
By Britt Johnsen – Staff reporter, Minneapolis / St. Paul Business Journal
Friday, June 1st, 2018
MEDA, the Metropolitan Economic Development Association, has received more than $700,000 in grant money to create an online platform for minority-owned businesses that it will unveil this fall.
Meda is currently developing this platform for a program it’s calling Catalyst, which is a partnership between Meda and these minority business-development groups in the Twin Cities:
The online platform allows all these groups to access the same training, online financing, as well as the intake assessment and referral system for entrepreneurs seeking help. Another aspect of Catalyst is to pool funding and other resources.
Meda decided to create Catalyst after it learned through a market study it had a huge gap between the people Meda was serving and the people it could reach. It found many minority entrepreneurs didn’t know they could access services that could help them grow.
“Everybody sees they need a better system,” said Gary Cunningham, president and CEO of Meda.
There are more than 47,000 minority businesses in Minnesota, but between Meda and the groups that are now part of Catalyst, they serve only 4,000 businesses, he said.
“What we found is there are a lot of different doors for businesses to come into and they get confused,” he said.
Catalyst was officially created in 2016, but about a year ago it received more than $700,000 in grant funding for the online platform and its other efforts, he said. The Kauffman Foundation gave $400,000 for Catalyst and the New York-based Surdna Foundation gave $225,000. The St. Paul Foundation has given $75,000, and Cunningham said it has received some other smaller donations.
He said he would give an update on the efforts around Catalyst at its upcoming annual meeting, which takes place on June 11 at 3 p.m. at the Walker Art Center. The online platform will roll out this fall. The system is currently undergoing a test phase, he said.
“We want to have one entry place for minority businesses,” Cunningham said.
Read the full article here.