BEMIDJI -- The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development has provided $300,000 to Bemidji agencies with the goal of helping start-up businesses.

As part of its Emerging Entrepreneur Loan Program, DEED awarded $3.1 million to 26 nonprofit lending partners across the state, with three grants to the Bemidji area. The program funds are available to eligible businesses to finance a variety of start-up and expansion costs.

According to a release, the program supports the growth of businesses owned and operated by Black, Indigenous, People of Color, low-income persons, women, veterans and/or people with disabilities. The Bemidji nonprofits selected by DEED include:

  • Greater Bemidji Economic Development, receiving $75,000.
  • The Headwaters Regional Finance Corp., of the Headwaters Regional Development Commission, receiving $75,000.
  • The Northwest Minnesota Foundation, receiving $150,000.

The dollars awarded by DEED is an initial allocation of funds. Lenders with a proven record with the program that have exhausted the initial funding may request additional dollars.

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"Now more than ever, the Emerging Entrepreneur Loan Program is a great platform to empower the growth of small businesses that might not otherwise have access to capital," DEED Commissioner Steve Grove said. "Our economic recovery must create jobs in communities hit hardest by the pandemic, and that's exactly what these entrepreneurs will do."