After the Legislature approved a billion-dollar stadium for the Minnesota Vikings, the Minneapolis Foundation used impact investing to help more local business owners take advantage of the project’s economic opportunities.
The Working Capital Loan Fund, which the Foundation teamed up with donors to create in 2014, is designed to eliminate one of the largest barriers that keeps emerging construction companies from growing.
Donors Ed and Judy Cannon were among several donors who recommended that a portion of their Donor Advised Fund at the Minneapolis Foundation be invested in the loan fund, which provides cash-flow loans to minority-owned businesses so they can participate in construction of the stadium.
“Small business support and local issues are important to us, which the Foundation understands,” Ed said. “We started our own company years ago, and we know what it’s like to be a small business and the struggle it can be to get financing and the necessary bonds to participate in projects like this.”
“Contributing to this fund helps level the playing field, so it’s rewarding to see it help jumpstart jobs for minority-owned businesses”
– Judy Cannon
The Working Capital Loan Fund is a three-year, $1 million loan made to the Metropolitan Economic Development Association. The loan takes a reuse-and-recycle approach; as businesses repay their loans, the funds can be redeployed to help others.
As of October 2015, the fund had made nine loans to help minority-owned construction companies, supporting the equivalent of 181 full-time jobs.
Dave Bice, a member of the White Earth Band of Ojibwe and owner of Bald Eagle Erectors, is one of the business owners who got a stadium contract with help from the loan fund. “Without that $200,000 working capital loan, we wouldn’t be able to do this job,” he told the Star Tribune.
“Contributing to this fund helps level the playing field, so it’s rewarding to see it help jumpstart jobs for minority-owned businesses,” Judy said.
“Like the Foundation, we’re always thinking about equity,” Ed said. “The Vikings stadium project has been a springboard for a lot of businesses, creating opportunities for people to get in the game—one that lasts a lot longer than 60 minutes.”