Southern Minn. Initiative Foundation launches program to support minority-owned businesses

Published 9:57 am Friday, November 27, 2015

Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation announces the launch of The Prosperity Initiative, a program intended to promote minority-owned business growth in southern Minnesota, according to a press release. This program is funded in part by Minnesota’s Department of Employment and Economic Development. Over the next two years, SMIF will work with key program partner, the SE Minnesota Small Business Development Center in Rochester, to identify and speak with minority business owners interested in growing their companies in southern Minnesota.

The Prosperity Initiative, designed to provide education and business resources to minority business owners, will also educate resource partners of the barriers and opportunities these individuals encounter. In doing so, the program hopes to strengthen and coordinate the resources available to minority-owned businesses throughout the region. The first phase of the program includes a survey of existing minority businesses, available on SMIF’s website. This information will inform SMIF and its partners of the immediate and long-term needs of minority-owned businesses. As a result, conferences, trainings and mentorships for selected companies will be available to address the identified needs.

“We know our region is facing a labor shortage,” said SMIF Vice President of Economic Development Pam Bishop. “A key factor in sustaining a strong economy in southern Minnesota is making sure all business owners are getting the necessary support to grow and encouraging aspiring entrepreneurs from diverse, underrepresented backgrounds. We are hopeful that the collaborative nature of The Prosperity Initiative can help us meet these needs.”

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In addition to SE Minnesota SBDC, other partner organizations include: Blandin Foundation’s Leadership in Ethnically Diverse Communities Program, Community and Economic Development Associates, Greater Mankato Diversity Council, Latino Economic Development Center in Minneapolis, Project FINE in Winona, Region 9 Development Commission in Mankato, Diversity Council in Rochester and Welcome Center in Austin.

For more information about the survey or Prosperity Initiative, contact Meg Steuer at or 608-397-0079.

Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation, a donor-supported foundation, invests for economic growth in 20 Minnesota counties. The Foundation has provided more than $55 million in grants and loans within the region during the past 29 years. SMIF’s key interests include early childhood and economic development. To learn more about its work and mission, visit