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May's Immigrant and Refugees Affair Forum Shares Contract Opportunities and Loan Programs for Small Businesses

In celebration of National Small Business Week, the Department of Employment and Economic Development’s (DEED) Immigrant and Refugee Affairs Forum in May provided important information for small businesses. We heard from a variety of speakers who provided insight regarding contract opportunities, loan programs and more for our community members.

MnDOT Contract Opportunities for Small Businesses

The Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) in partnership with Push Strategist, LLC is seeking to connect with immigrant, refugee and BIPOC small businesses about contract opportunities valued up to $250,000,000. Eligible small businesses in the maintenance, construction and professional-technical industries are encouraged to fill out their form to see if their business meets the minimum requirements for these projects. If the business does not currently meet the minimum requirements, Push Strategist LLC will work with MnDOT’s Office of Equity in Procurement and Contracting to help provide free services to work towards becoming eligible to do business with the State of Minnesota. If you have questions or if you need language translation services, please email

Loan and Finance Programs for Small Businesses

Representatives from the Central Minnesota Development Company (CDMC) and Metropolitan Economic Development Association (MEDA) shared business loan and finance programs that are available to immigrant and refugee business owners. Some of the programs and services they highlighted include:

SBA 504 Loans – Designed for companies that are expanding the tax base, creating jobs and expanding personal income for entrepreneurs. The loans can be used for land acquisition, site improvements, the purchase of existing or new buildings and more. The borrower benefits include low down payments, fixed interest rates and long-term financing.

Emerging Entrepreneur Loan Program – Provides loan capital for businesses that are owned and operated by women, veterans, BIPOC, low-income persons and/or persons with disabilities. DEED provides grant funds to a network of nonprofit lenders which use these funds for loans to startup and expanding businesses throughout the state. ELP funding can range from $5,000 to $150,000.

Minnesota Inclusive Growth Fund – Provides flexible and affordable capital and support services for small businesses across Minnesota, with an emphasis on long-term recovery, growth and businesses in low-to-moderate income or underbanked communities. The fund offers two types of loans for small businesses, one for businesses seeking working capital and another for growth-stage businesses seeking a loan for capital expenditures.

‘The Journey to Belonging in the Twin Cities’ Report Overview

In March of 2022, the Minneapolis Regional Chamber, in partnership with the St. Paul Area Chamber, City of Minneapolis, and City of St. Paul, released “The Journey to Belonging in the Twin Cities,” a comprehensive roadmap to making the Twin Cities a more welcoming place for immigrants and refugees. You can read the report to see their recommendations and learn more about this initiative.

If you missed this month’s forum, you can watch the discussion on DEED’s YouTube channel.


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