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DMC grant program offers special opportunity for BIPOC applicants

Drone - Downtown Rochester
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ROCHESTER — A new $3 million grant program for entrepreneurs and businesses to make community investments is described as a special opportunity for applicants who are Black, Indigenous or people of color.

Funds for the grant program, which has been named the Main Street Grant program, were awarded to the city and Destination Medical Center Economic Development Agency by the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) in October.

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The money is to be used for grants for improvement projects that add value to a business’ permanent structure or other asset. Grant awards will be available to cover up to 30% of the project costs.

DEED Commissioner Steve Grove said the new investments are expected to create jobs and growth in Rochester.

Any person or organization planning to invest in eligible improvement projects in the DMC district can apply, and businesses and organizations that represent Disadvantaged Business Enterprises, veteran, disabled, Black, Indigenous, or people of color are being strongly encouraged to apply.

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DMC worked with six community co-designers to help guide the design process of the Main Street Grant program.

Co-designers are connectors to underrepresented community members with different perspectives – cultural, religious, mobility, mental health, and socio-economic. The community co-designers engaged with their communities to discuss how the application and approval process could be more accessible to underrepresented communities.

"Co-design was a conscious and intentional effort to make an application process with the people it intends to serve,” said Kevin Bright, DMC’s director of housing and sustainability. “From its use, we learned many challenges the community faces in accessing grant opportunities and we believe provided a set of tools, resources, connections, and support to allow as many as possible to ease their access to these funds.”

In addition to the $3 million grant award in October, DEED announced a second round of funding this week, which included an additional $988,000 for DMC Main Street efforts.

The second round of funding will expand the Main Street Economic Revitalization initiative to provide grants to businesses outside of the DMC district to support economic recovery from the impacts of the COVID-19 outbreak.

During Wednesday’s DMC Corp. board meeting, members said the new grant award provides DMC and the city a way to support commercial businesses that are typically out of reach of the greater initiative.

“We do have limits with Destination Medical Center,” Mayor Kim Norton said, pointing to spending that’s limited to the defined DMC district. “That’s sometimes hard for the community to understand, so a movement like this … is particularly significant.”

Details regarding the second Main Street Grant program are expected to be announced in the coming months.

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