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Pohlad Ready to Grow application deadline nears

The Minnesota Chamber of Commerce Foundation and Grow Minnesota! has introduced the Pohlad Family Foundation's Ready to Grow pledge to help small Minnesota businesses retain jobs and plan for their future growth.

Grow Minnesota!, the Minnesota Chamber's business retention and economic development program, operates in partnership with 43 local chambers of commerce and reaches businesses in more than 50 Minnesota communities. The Bemidji Area Chamber of Commerce, along with the Joint Economic Development Commission, is a Grow Minnesota! Partner, and Chamber President Lori Paris encourages those businesses that have determined their eligibility to apply.

"This small business recovery assistance program could very well assist businesses to retain vital positions lost due to the down turn as well as revise their business plan that will enable them to grow," Paris said. "Competition will be tough and we believe in our business community and hope they can find benefit with this program."

Grant and loan applications recommended by the local partners and the Minnesota Chamber's Grow Minnesota! staff will be reviewed and approved by a committee made up of small business owners and representatives of the Pohlad Family Foundation.

Eligible small businesses must be privately held, be in business for at least two years, have fewer than 50 employees and generate annual sales of $10 million or less.

Loan applicants must have been turned down for a loan by a banking institution.

Funds will be distributed in four categories:

- Grants to retain valued employees while planning and making adjustments for future success, up to $50,000 for each retained job, up to four positions per business.

- Grants up to $10,000 for a consultant to assist with business planning.

- Short-term, low-interest (3 percent) working capital loans up to $50,000 to continue business operations.

- Short-term, low-interest (3 percent) capital improvement loans up to $50,000 to finance improvements consistent with the company's strategic plan.

For details, contact Paris at 444-3541, ext. 107, or