Minnesota State Mankato’s Strategic Partnerships Center Receives $942,796 Grant from U.S. SBA to Help Disadvantaged Small Businesses

University is 1 of 2 Minnesota recipients among 51 nationwide grantees

November 30, 2021 | News Story

Mankato, Minn. – Minnesota State University, Mankato’s Strategic Partnerships Center, housed in the Hubbard Building in Old Town Mankato, was recently awarded a $942,796 grant from the U.S. Small Business Administration to serve as a hub for a new American Rescue Plan initiative designed to reduce barriers for small businesses seeking to access government resources.

The hub’s name is “South Central Community Navigator: Mainstreet Businesses Focused on Food and Agriculture” (MBFFA), and the initiative’s period of performance begins Wednesday, Dec. 1.

The list of grant recipients for the U.S. SBA initiative – the Community Navigator Pilot Program – was announced in a recent U.S. SBA press release.

The Minnesota State Mankato Strategic Partnerships Center’s role as a hub will be to work with five partners (or “spokes”), which are listed below, to provide outreach, education and technical assistance to underserved small businesses, including micro and rural businesses in the food and agriculture sector.

Teri Wallace, Minnesota State Mankato’s interim associate vice president for research and dean of extended campus, will provide administrative oversight of the MBFFA hub.

“We are excited to receive this award from the U.S. Small Business Administration to provide support to small businesses facing challenges during these critical times,” said Wallace. “MBFFA will strengthen connections among trusted Community Navigators and support entrepreneurs to drive innovation for South Central Minnesota. While the university’s Strategic Partnerships Center will serve as the coordinating hub, our Minnesota State Mankato and community partners bring the expertise intended to stimulate, sustain and/or grow small businesses in the agriculture and food sector in South Central Minnesota. Each MBFFA member will work on specific areas of economic development, with entities collaborating to assist businesses in achieving lasting results.”

The MBFFA hub’s five partners and contacts include:

For overall grant information, please contact Teri Wallace by phone at 507-389-5381 or by email at teresa.wallace@mnsu.edu.

The MBFFA hub and its five partners will provide counseling, training, technical assistance and access to resources based on the needs of small businesses to enhance growth in the agriculture and food-related sector in Region 9 (located in South Central Minnesota).

Region 9 consists of nine counties, with three designated as disadvantaged and several experiencing lower wages, higher unemployment, increase in median age and lower educational attainment.

Priority for services will be given to businesses owned by women, veterans and individuals who are socially and economically disadvantaged.

The University’s Strategic Partnerships Center received its grant through the U.S. SBA’s new Community Navigator Pilot Program, which “will provide $100 million in funding to 51 organizations that will work with hundreds of local groups to connect America’s entrepreneurs to government resources so they can recover and thrive,” according to a U.S. SBA press release.

Minnesota State Mankato’s Strategic Partnerships Center is one of two grantees from the state of Minnesota among 51 nationwide grant recipients. The other grantee from Minnesota is the Chinese American Chamber of Commerce MN, headquartered in the Twin Cities metropolitan area.

Minnesota State Mankato, a comprehensive university with 14,546 students, is part of the Minnesota State system, which includes 30 colleges and seven universities.

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