Minnesota’s New $10 Million Small Business Loan Fund Seeks Non-Profit Lending Partners

by Bob Coleman


The Minnesota Expanding Opportunity Fund is Administered by the Department of Employment and Economic Development or DEED

DEED’s $10 million Expanding Opportunity Fund will “support entrepreneurs who have struggled to access capital through traditional bank loans. The fund is designed to support historically under-funded small businesses operated by women, people of color, or in Greater Minnesota.”

DEED’s Emerging Entrepreneur Loan Program provides funding through nonprofit partners for businesses owned and operated by people living with disabilities, people experiencing low income, people of color, women, and veterans. Last fiscal year, the program saw record lending numbers, including 61 new loans for over $2.6 million, leveraging over $14.8 million in private funding and creating an estimated 202 new jobs for new and expanding businesses.

Last fall, DEED launched the State Small Business Credit Initiative, a slate of six federally-funded programs to provide more capital to small businesses statewide. So far, the programs have facilitated $14.7 million in loans to businesses and have 47 enrolled nonprofit or CDFI lenders.

CNBC recently named Minnesota a top-five state for business, and small business growth is particularly strong: Small business starts have increased by nearly one-third in Minnesota since 2019, and businesses are launching faster than they did before the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2022, new business starts totaled over 61,000, nearly 15% above 2020.

“Small business owners and entrepreneurs are often unable to get the loans they need to start or expand their businesses – a critical miss for job creation, business growth and community development,” says DEED Commissioner Matt Varilek. “Small business owners look to DEED to deliver for them – and that’s exactly what we’re doing. Our new Expanding Opportunity Fund will benefit small businesses by providing access to the capital they need to take off and thrive.”

DEED is now accepting applications from non-profit lenders interested in participating in the Expanding Opportunity Fund. Lenders can receive up to $600,000 at one time to provide low-interest loans to the small business owners they serve.