Main Street Revitalization in Long Prairie with help from the Initiative Foundation

Tuesday, August 02, 2022

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Formed in 1986 by a partnership of regional leaders and The McKnight Foundation, the Initiative Foundation is one of six Minnesota Initiative Foundations serving Greater Minnesota. Independent and responsive to local needs and opportunities, each Foundation was created to strengthen its regional economy and communities. The MIF partners share ideas while investing in business loans, nonprofit grants, programs, and donor services.  The MIF model is unique to Minnesota. No other U.S. state has a similar foundation network that unites community and economic development.

Our Service Area

The Initiative Foundation’s 14-county service area includes Todd County and the sovereign native nations of the Leech Lake and Mille Lacs Bands of Ojibwe. The Foundation serves more than 750,000 residents. 

The Initiative Foundation received an award of just under $4.5 million, which is to cover Main Street Revitalization projects for 6 cities. There is approximately $490,000 set aside for Long Prairie. The grant funds represent a matching opportunity:

  • 30% state funds/grant
  • 70% local dollars (your contribution/match) 

These funds support:

  • Repair or renovation of real property
  • Building Construction
  • Landscaping and streetscaping
  • Demolition and site preparation
  • Project pre-design and design
  • Engineering
  • Non-municipal infrastructure

All projects must be awarded and initiated within 15 months and completed within 36 months.

Criteria for evaluating eligible projects:

  • Increase in the tax base
  • Increase and support business ownership by minorities, women, veterans, or other protected
  • class of entrepreneurs
  • Increase in housing capacity or childcare slots
  • Targeted support for small businesses
  • Redevelopment of anchor institutions
  • Maximize leverage (private investment) in the designated corridor
  • Increase in jobs

Right now, the City of Long Prairie has started the application process for the Mainstreet Revitalization program.   

We spoke to  Don Hickman, Vice President for Community & Workforce Development at the Initiative Foundation, who gave us an overview of the entire project.

  • Can you give us a brief description of the Mainstreet Revitalization project?
    • Last June, the Minnesota Legislature created a program to provide state support to encourage reinvestment in critical historic downtowns that had either been damaged in the civil disturbances of May 2021, natural disasters, or by the pandemic and associated regulations.  Long Prairie was one of the six communities within Central Minnesota that was selected by the Initiative Foundation and has received an initial allocation of $493,000.  These funds can be used to provide a 30% state match (70% local investment) for demolition, planning, construction, and other similar investments that can help inspire reinvestment in Long Prairie’s commercial corridor.  Applications are being accepted for the next 60 days and will be ranked by a subcommittee of the City’s Economic Development Authority.  Top-ranked projects will then have an opportunity to document their ability to match the state contribution, and if approved will receive a check for the 30% match this autumn. Projects must be initiated within 15 months and completed within 36 months.
  • Please give us a short description of the Initiative Foundation.
    • The Initiative Foundation was established in 1986 to support economic and community development in Central Minnesota.  We host a revolving loan pool of around $20M to support gap lending to businesses with the potential to pay living wages, and also administer grants for eligible applicants.  In 2021 our grant awards exceeded $10M, including a large number of Small Business Relief Grants, also administered on behalf of the State of Minnesota.
  • How many businesses will the project help to cover?
    • This is difficult to predict; it depends on how much each one requests.  In addition, there are five other communities in the program within our region, and if they are unable to fully distribute their pool of funds, Long Prairie’s allocation could increase.
  • How will the award to the City of Long Prairie benefit the community?
    • The EDA developed criteria by which they will rank projects, but are hopeful that in addition to supporting retail businesses, this may also spur investment in housing and child care – two sectors that are bottlenecks in attracting and retaining the skilled workforce that every business requires.
  • What kind of support from the county would be useful according to you?
    • We encourage everyone to promote this opportunity, and will also contract with a local firm to make sure the language or culture is not a barrier to applicants.

Visit this page to know more about the Main Street Revitalization program. 

Category: News

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