Contact: Kenny Devine Kenny.Devine@padillaco.com
MINNEAPOLIS (June 11, 2018) – One of the state’s ascendant social ventures will stake $1 million on the best ideas of its minority entrepreneurs.
This October, the Metropolitan Economic Development Association (Meda) is planning to host an eventful business-plan competition modeled on the television show “Shark Tank.” The Million Dollar Challenge for Minority Entrepreneurs is a national competition being developed in partnership with St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter.
The competition kicks off during Twin Cities Startup Week, October 8-14. It will culminate with a finalist event in December.
The competition will include a speed-pitching event, educational opportunities, a business accelerator and four finalist awards, including a collective $1 million investment in the finalists’ businesses. Competition and event details will be released later this summer.
A $1 million grant from NEXT Fund for Innovation (NEXT Fund) will provide partial funding for the competition and awards. NEXT Fund is the pilot program of a Philadelphia-based, national organization of community-development financial institutions.
“Meda has a wonderful legacy of creating economic opportunities for people of color – and I share that commitment,” said St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter. “This competition is a bold way to empower aspiring minority entrepreneurs, who will have the means to create more living-wage jobs for our residents, and help improve quality of life for so many.”
Meda is a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping minority businesses succeed. The competition was announced during Meda’s 47th Annual Meeting on June 11, held at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis.
Also announced during the annual meeting was a $500,000 grant from the W. K. Kellogg Foundation, of Battle Creek, Michigan, to help expand Meda’s successful model for accelerating minority business to other markets.
Additionally, Meda recognized its Outstanding Advocates for Minority Entrepreneurship.
Recipients included Gloria Freeman has been named Entrepreneur of the Year. Freeman is the founder of Olu’s Home, a residence for people who are elderly, have developmental disabilities or mental illness; and, Olu’s Beginnings, a holistic, intergenerational early childhood program in North Minneapolis.
Minneapolis CPA and advisory firm Lurie LLP has been named Corporation of the Year for its legacy of probono service. More than 100 Lurie employees have given over 25,000 hours of volunteer service to Meda clients since the firm first partnered with Meda. Meda chose Junior Achievement of the Upper Midwest (JAUM) as its Community Partner of the Year. JAUM worked with Meda to launch the JA/Meda Fellows Program, a creative partnership to develop young entrepreneurs of color.
Fredrikson & Byron law firm, Minneapolis, has been named Corporate Volunteer of the Year. Its lawyers donate their time to Meda clients, helping minority entrepreneurs understand the legal implications of business ownership and providing instruction in Meda’s Mini MBA program.
“This is a time of great momentum within our organization,” said Gary Cunningham, Meda president and CEO. “Meda is proud to partner with the City of St. Paul on the Million Dollar Challenge, and we are confident that our business partners and contributors will see their investments create important economic opportunities that ultimately benefit everyone.”
Minority business owners often lack access to capital to start and grow their businesses. According to a 2017 report by the Minority Business Development Agency, loan denial rates were three times higher for minority firms with gross receipts under $500,000 and about twice as high for minority firms with greater revenues.
Meda services include business consulting, financing solutions and corporate and government opportunities, such as contracts and funding opportunities. Since its inception in 1971, Meda has assisted over 20,500 minority entrepreneurs and helped start over 500 minority-owned, small businesses.
Meda will provide more details on the competition in August.
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About the Metropolitan Economic Development Agency (Meda)
Meda provides business consulting, access to capital, and market opportunities for minority entrepreneurs. Meda also operates a business development center under cooperative agreement with the Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) of the U.S. Department of Commerce. The Minneapolis MBDA Business Center connects Minnesota Minority Business Enterprises (MBEs) with business opportunities and has been recognized as the top performing center in the country the last two year.