The Minnesota legislative session wrapped up last Monday with a historic set of new policies and record-breaking funding allocations, including millions of dollars to support businesses and nonprofits in the Lake Street corridor. We applaud Representative Hodan Hassan and Senator Zaynab Mohamed for their leadership in advocating for our resilient community.
One of the most significant pieces of newly passed legislation is the Economic Development Finance and Policy bill, which will bolster the economic recovery needs of under-resourced businesses across Minneapolis and Saint Paul. This legislation’s investment of over $100 million in direct support for small businesses in the metropolitan area through grants and loans will help many Lake Street businesses thrive in the coming years.
We are especially thankful to Representative Aisha Gomez for the continued support of Lake Street by including an $8 million allocation in the Tax Finance and Policy bill. This allocation is for a grant to the City of Minneapolis to invest in Lake Street’s recovery, including support for marketing, placemaking, public art, and general corridor promotion. This represents a significant opportunity to continue the kind of grant and forgivable loan options that have been the hallmark of the We Love Lake Street program. We hope to work closely with the City of Minneapolis to make this investment as far-reaching and impactful as possible.
While these allocations are exciting news for the Lake Street corridor, it will take months before Lake Street’s small businesses receive these grants, loans, and direct support. Our priority has always been and will continue to be ensuring that access to these funds is done simply and equitably.
Our biggest disappointment this session was seeing a lack of debt-free financing solutions made available for redevelopment projects along corridors that were heavily damaged in the civil unrest of 2020. On Lake Street alone, over 40 significant redevelopment projects are anticipated in the next 2 years – and ten of them need over 90 million dollars in public subsidy to move forward.
The Lake Street Council looks forward to working with lawmakers next session to fill the many remaining gaps and ensure that our small, locally-owned businesses and nonprofit organizations have the resources needed to successfully rebuild and recover along our historic and vibrant Lake Street.