News: County approves up to $1.1 million for two business support programs

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Hennepin County Minnesota


Media contact: Kyle Mianulli, Community Works, 612-596-9875

Applicant contact: Mary Matze, Community Works, 612-348-9812

County approves up to $1.1 million for two business support programs

Board approves contracts for CEO Next Business Institute and Open to Business

Hennepin County is renewing its investment in two programs designed to grow jobs and businesses in the county.

The county board voted Tuesday as the Housing and Redevelopment Authority to approve agreements with the Minneapolis Consortium of Community Developers (MCCD) for the Open to Business Program (up to $405,000), and with the Edward Lowe Foundation for CEO Next Business Institute (up to $720,000).


Open to Business

This program provides technical assistance and consulting for startups and small businesses. Hennepin County provides matching grants to cities who contract directly with MCCD to provide free business support in their cities.

MCCD also connects businesses to nontraditional financing opportunities to further grow.


CEO Next Business Institute

This program, previously supported by the county under the program name “Economic Gardening,” helps second-stage companies through advanced business and market research, peer and cohort learning, and expert forums. Hennepin, Ramsey, Scott, and Dakota counties contract with the Edward Lowe Foundation, who administers the program, to allow qualifying businesses to participate for free.


2019-2020 CEO Next application period now open

Privately held businesses that have between 10 and 99 employees and that have $1 million -$50 million in revenue are invited to apply through September 30, 2019 to participate in the 2019-2020 program.

Learn more about program qualifications.


Program impacts

These two economic development programs have helped over 2,200 entrepreneurs and small businesses. They have created or retained 3,450 jobs, and helped businesses access more than $66 million in capital.



"Here's an analogy of my experience," said Jeff Sommers of Izzy’s Ice Cream, of the CEO Next Business Institute. "When kids play baseball on the street or in the backyard it increases efficiency to have a backstop to catch the balls the catcher or batter misses. That's what this program is. It’s a backstop to catch the things that leaders need to pay attention to so we can get back to play sooner. Research provided through the program helped us to understand the magic language of the supply, distribution, sales and marketing chains. We didn't have this before the program."

“The Open to Business program was our literal lifeline. We simply wouldn’t be here without them,” said Tomme Beevas, owner of Pimento Jamaican Kitchen, of the Open to Business program.

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