Latino Economic Development Center
What has been most instrumental to your progress?
The needs of the small business community are great following the pandemic as well as the uprising after George Floyd’s murder. It is easy to try to help all small businesses that are struggling with lower sales, infrastructure damage, and community perception. But the Rebuild and Heal Initiative has known – and continues to focus on – the needs of immigrant-owned small businesses in impacted areas in Minneapolis-St. Paul. Without this focus, we would be unable to give as many sizable rebuilding grants to these businesses hardest hit.
Key lessons learned
One key lesson was that, for some of these small businesses impacted, that the best outcome was for their business to close. It takes significant resources to open a small business, and it takes significant resources to close a small business. For each of the partners involved in the Rebuild & Heal coalition, we had client businesses that had to close. We used this collaborative to help those businesses find a “soft landing” to closing, so their owners and employees could move on with their lives.
Reflections on inclusive, collaborative or resourceful problem-solving
Resourceful continues to be key, as this initiative came about as a reaction to the impact on immigrant-owned businesses following the uprising after the murder of George Floyd. We didn’t have a clear cut, tested strategy in place when we received the grant funding, and we’ve had to figure out our processes as we move about doing the work and getting these businesses the support they need.
Other key elements of Community Innovation
Responsiveness has been key for us – this collaborative came out of a desire to be responsive to the needs of our community and our clients, and it informs how we continue to go about our work. By being responsive to the needs of our community and to the needs of the partners in the collaborative, we are able to ensure we are able to get the grant dollars out to the immigrant-owned businesses that need them.
Understanding the problem
When we first received this grant, the collaborative had a vision to bring the immigrant-owned small businesses together to share resources, ideas, and make connections. However, it is has been extremely challenging getting them together. First, there was the pandemic. And now people are exhausted after a long day of work and don’t want to add another meeting or task to their busy schedules.
If you could do it all over again...
Going back in time, we would try to build in more time and capacity to move away from being reactionary to allow for more strategy and planning as we execute the work. The collaborative is proud of its ability, with the support of the Bush Foundation, to get emergency relief out to immigrant-owned businesses quickly. But we could have used more opportunities to develop and refine strategy as we moved along in the work.
One last thought
Because of the overlapping grant periods with Rebuild & Heal, we focused on disbursing all funds from the grant originally awarded in 2020 before distributing awards from this new grant. Once those were all expelled, we began distributing awards from this new grant in September.