In an effort to uplift small businesses and support under-represented groups including Black, Indigenous and People of Color- and women-owned businesses, youth and artists, the City is planning to open a Small Business Development Center (SBDC). It will be on the east side of Bloomington in the former fire station, 2050 86th Street East, which is within a half mile of public transit. The new center will serve as a space for aspiring entrepreneurs by providing educational and financial resources, creating long-lasting jobs that will benefit the community, and drive economic growth in Bloomington.
The new center is in alignment with the City Council’s strategic priorities of equity and inclusion, community amenities, environmental sustainability, and high-quality service delivery. The need for a SBDC was born out of the work of the City’s racial equity strategic planning committee and reconfirmed by a recent business survey conducted by Morris Leatherman Company with 84% of respondents saying that the creation of a City-led business incubator was a good idea.
The Community Development Department has received multiple grant funds to renovate and repurpose the former fire station as a SBDC. Grants include funding from McKnight Foundation’s Vibrant and Equitable Communities Grant Program, Hennepin County’s Business District Initiative and Community Investment Initiative Grant Programs, and federal funding through the American Rescue Plan Act. Awards are in the form of a grant and reimbursable for eligible activities. In addition, the Creative Placemaking Commission included the proposed SBDC as a priority on their 2023 work plan. Funding will be available towards activities and/or placemaking and installations within or on the outside of the facility.
The City has convened and is working with an advisory committee to develop suggestions for operations, space use, programming, services, activities, criteria and branding. The committee has been meeting monthly June 2022 through April 2023 and members consist of representation from Kennedy High School (youth), Midnight Toast (youth run business), St. Benedict’s College (youth), Hennepin County (also a small BIPOC-owned business owner), artists, City Council, local resident, Aeon/Blooming Meadows, Chinese American Chamber, Bloomington Chamber, BIPOC-owned business owners, Normandale Community College, and Bloomington Public Schools.
The City recently hired an architectural and engineering team led by 4RM+ULA in partnership with Alliiance and Juxtaposition to design the new layout for the SBDC and to further the engagement of our community for this resource for our community. Much of the design work is based off the recommendations of the advisory committee and their work.
Watch the video created by the City’s Communications Department to hear from committee members who are helping shape the vision of the SBDC.