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Minneapolis Small Business Owners Celebrate New Investments in 2017 City Budget

City Moves to Create a Better Environment for Small Businesses

CONTACT:
Corinne Horowitz, (612) 232-1655, corinne@mainstreetalliance.org
Mary Hamel, (651)387-0738, mary@metroiba.org

Minneapolis, MN - Small business and community members with Jewish Community Action, Main Street Alliance MN, and MetroIBA celebrated two amendment proposals in the 2017 City of Minneapolis Budget that would significantly improve communication, outreach, education and streamlining business touch-points for small and micro businesses. The proposed amendments add three full time positions within the Minneapolis City Coordinator’s Office and the Community Planning and Economic Department (CPED) to create a “Small Business Team” and direct staff to “align and/or reorganize small business touch points across the enterprise.”

At a morning press conference, small businesses, community leaders, and Council Members discussed both the the challenges facing small businesses, and the merits of the amendments. “Many immigrant business owners in our City don’t speak English fluently, or are computer savvy, explained Kayf Ahmed, owner of Capitol Cafe on Franklin. “Having “navigators’ on the ground to help simplify the process of starting a business will help tremendously in answering questions and nurturing growth, and help ensure entrepreneurs can be successful”

“We lost thousands of dollars because of miscommunication and a licensing issue that shut our doors for two months.” said Aisha Wadud, owner of Nura Holistic Massage. “The City needs to have better communication with businesses, and you shouldn’t have to be well-connected to get help with red tape and other problems.”

KB Brown, co-chair of Main Street Alliance MN, elaborated, “We want to live and do business in a city where everyone can thrive - for our employees, our customers and our small businesses. These amendments will create a better more equitable environment for small and micro businesses.”

“By building and fostering small business growth, we also support non-traditional business owners and produce local wealth, thereby reinvesting locally...This office will give our city the tools to truly put action behind the words that Minneapolis is a great place to establish your new business and for your business to grow,” commented Harvey Zuckman, a volunteer with MetroIBA.

“I really see this effort as supporting small businesses, supporting local reinvestment, and ultimately contributing to the sustainability and growth of Minneapolis’ tax base. There’s precedent for positions such as these across the country and I’m honored to have worked with such a strong group of partners, and the City, to make this possible. Minneapolis will certainly be stronger by supporting a diverse array of businesses and diversity among its small business owners,” said Lyndel Owens, organizer with Jewish Community Action.

Over the past year, MetroIBA, Main Street Alliance, and Jewish Community Action have advocated the idea of establishing a small business office, and, in this year’s proposed budget, Mayor Betsy Hodges dedicated one full-time position and additional funding to begin to address the needs of small business in the city and the City Council responded to that need by dedicating two additional positions to that effort.

"Most small business owners are not born into wealth; they work hard, plan, and save to pursue their dreams. These entrepreneurial spirits are the definition of passion and courage, and they invest so heavily in forming the unique spaces and services that make our city great," said Council Member Andrew Johnson. "Today we recommit to encouraging anyone and everyone who dreams of starting their own business, to support them and help them overcome obstacles, and to help all our small businesses grow and succeed."

“Minneapolis gets to be a Get to Yes City for small business,” said Mayor Betsy Hodges. “We want every employee at the City to have a Get to Yes mindset and a customer-service focus, in order to help everyone who wants to invest in Minneapolis succeed. Having navigators specifically dedicated to the success of small business is important: that’s why I began the process, at the request of small business, to get them in the City’s budget. But it’s also about who we are as a City government: even when we have to say no, we want that to be followed by, ‘here’s how we can help you get to yes.’”

“We are thrilled that the City Council has voted unanimously to dedicate the resources, both in staffing and direction, to ensure the needs of small businesses who want to get established and who want to grow in the city have the full resources of Minneapolis supporting them in that endeavor” added Zuckman.

 
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