Stewartville, MN Receives $9,000 SMIF Grant for New Business Incubation Program

Article by: Joya Stetson

The Stewartville, MN Economic Development (EDA) was recently notified that they have been awarded a $9,000 Incentive Grant from the Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation (SMIF).  Joya Stetson, the CEDA team member serving the City of Stewartville, successfully authored the grant for the implementation of a new business incubation program that the City’s EDA is launching this summer.

The new and exciting program will encourage the creation and support of new for-profit businesses that contribute to a sustainable and diverse business climate within the City’s business/commercial districts. The program will provide business owners with CEDA coordinated education and tools to promote long-term success while filling currently vacant commercial properties in Stewartville.  Although the EDA will not have a central incubation space, the provision of rental assistance over 18 months is expected to aid startup success rates.

New businesses leasing eligible, vacant properties may receive rental assistance at a decreasing rate for 18 months in accordance with the following scale: Months 1-6: 50% subsidy or $830/month max; Months 7-12: 33% subsidy or $560/month max; Months 13-18: 17% subsidy or $275/month max.

A series of entrepreneurial educational classes will be mandated for participants and will be open for existing businesses to attend as desired free of charge. The following 90-minute courses will be mandatory for participants in the program: Business Planning and Financial Projections (Prerequisite), Market Research, Pricing and Inventory, Marketing Strategies, Customer Service and Business Etiquette, Online Marketing, Websites and Social Media, Basic Bookkeeping, and Legal Considerations for Small Businesses. All courses will be coordinated by CEDA Senior Vice President and Small Business Development Center Counselor Cris Gastner.

Businesses accepted into the program will also be required to participate in quarterly meetings with open financials and to deliver a public presentation after one year outlining challenges, achievements, and plans for future sustainability.

The generous grant from SMIF will allow the City to fully commence the program and leverage resources to maximize benefits to the businesses and the community as a whole.

“[The City] is pleased to offer this tool as a part of our economic development efforts,” said Mayor Jimmie-John King. “We understand how difficult the first year of business can be, and are hopeful that the assistance being offered here will be advantageous for new businesses locating to our community.”