ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Minnesota DEED grant to fund University of Minnesota Crookston rural business development program

The University of Minnesota Crookston’s Veden Center for Rural Economic Development was awarded a $237,217 Small Business Partnership Grant from DEED, which will fund a program that will provide businesses with education, networking and marketing services at little to no cost.

Minnesota Crookston water tower logo.jpg
A water tower in Crookston, Minn., is adorned with the logo of the University of Minnesota Crookston. (Grand Forks Herald photo)
We are part of The Trust Project.

CROOKSTON – A recent Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development grant will help fund a program that will benefit small businesses and students in the region.

The University of Minnesota Crookston’s Veden Center for Rural Economic Development was awarded a $237,217 Small Business Partnership Grant from DEED, which will fund a program that will provide businesses with education, networking and marketing services at little to no cost.

DEED awarded Small Business Partnership Grants to 37 nonprofit and public organizations, for a total $9.8 million, to support entrepreneurs and small businesses in the state. The grant program is targeted to organizations that provide business development and technical assistance services to entrepreneurs and small businesses.

Mitchell Berg, associate director of the Veden Center, said the program grant money will be used to repurpose services that the Veden Center has offered in the past with a new focus on entrepreneurship and business development in a post-COVID world. The project will consist of five different components: three sets of business certificate courses with focuses on entrepreneurship, QuickBook training and financial resiliency, two years of networking support and an internship program. The program will be open to businesses at all stages – from entrepreneurs with ideas to established small businesses hoping to refine their operations.

The DEED grant will cover all or most of the cost of classes, networking and hiring an intern. As the details of the program are still being developed, Berg says the center is looking for ways to cut even more costs for businesses.

ADVERTISEMENT

“For instance, with the QuickBooks training, we’ve got it in the grant that whoever takes the class can receive, up to a certain amount of time, a free QuickBooks membership,” said Berg. “The thing we don’t want to do with these classes is offer them and then they find out they have to buy a $500 software package.”

Providing services like training courses and networking services for free will help small businesses get ahead, said Rachel Lundbohm, assistant professor of management at UMC and a Veden fellow.

“It’s helping them to launch and grow their business without having the added expenses that would come along if they had to pay somebody to do that,” said Lundbohm.

Businesses are not the only ones that will benefit from the program. Lundbohm says at UMC, most majors require students to complete internships for their degrees. The Veden Center will help pair participating businesses with interns from UMC to assist with tasks like marketing and branding. Interns will be paid for their work through the Veden Center with DEED grant dollars, taking the financial burden of paying interns off the shoulders of small businesses.

“It’s kind of a win-win. The students get real, hands-on experiences working with real businesses, and then the businesses in turn get really valuable assistance from the students,” said Lundbohm.

The Veden Center has partnered with Advance Thief River and the Fosston Economic Development Authority to grow its grant-funded program’s reach, but Berg says entrepreneurs and small businesses owners from all over the region will be eligible to participate.

“We’re going to be able to serve a broad 11-county area, so East Grand Forks up to Kittson County, and to some extent Mahnomen and even Bemidji,” he said.

Along with helping rural businesses, the Veden Center has also historically provided services to Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) led businesses. In 2020, the center received a grant from the United States Department of Agriculture to fund a program called Mano Amiga , which helped Latino-owned businesses grow and develop. Berg says the DEED grant will help the Veden Center continue to extend its services to diverse communities.

ADVERTISEMENT

“Our focus is supporting not just rural Minnesota or the region, but we’ve also got a focus on supporting BIPOC businesses," Berg said. "So the Veden Center is excited to be a recipient of the Small Business Development Partnership Grant, because we really want to help grow entrepreneurship within the region and expand and diversify the economy.”

Ingrid Harbo joined the Grand Forks Herald in September 2021.

Harbo covers Grand Forks region news, and also writes about business in Grand Forks and the surrounding area.

Readers can reach Harbo at 701-780-1124 or iharbo@gfherald.com. Follow her on Twitter @ingridaharbo.
What to read next
Fire was in kitchen, but extinguished soon after crews arrived.
Road to be closed twice over the course of several days.
Northern Minnesota research published in the journal Nature found modest warming may devastate some tree species.
The scope of work includes the railroad crossings near Sacred Heart School at Third Street Northwest, Central Avenue Northwest and Second Avenue Northeast