Group Raises $10M to Support Central Corridor Biz.

The Central Corridor Funders Collaborative has awarded millions of dollars in grants to support economic development around the Central Corridor light-rail line, and it will enter 2012 with about $5 million available to invest.

A group that aims to assist residents and businesses near the Central Corridor light-rail line has raised more than $10 million since 2008-and it will enter 2012 with about $5 million ready to invest.

The Central Corridor Funders Collaborative, which was formed in 2008, includes local and national foundations. The group on Wednesday announced that it recently received new investments, each valued at $250,000 or more, from several of its members, including the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the McKnight Foundation, the F.R. Bigelow Foundation, the Ford Foundation, and The St. Paul Foundation.

Through its “Catalyst Fund,” the Funders Collaborative has awarded nearly $4.5 million so far. The group that has received the largest chunk of the funding is the Business Resources Collaborative, which was awarded $1.4 million. It was formed to help businesses prepare for the effects of nearby construction.

Other grants have ranged from $2,500 for consultation on creating manufacturing jobs in the area to a $75,000 grant to nonprofit Springboard for the Arts to support “Irrigate,” an artist-led project aimed at preserving and building the identities of neighborhoods along the Central Corridor.

The Funders Collaborative is also supporting a consortium of representatives from the community, government, finance, and development sectors that will study how affordable housing in the area can be preserved, developed, and financed.

A full list of the fund's investments to date can be downloaded here.

The Central Corridor light-rail line is a $957 million project that will span 11 miles and connect the downtowns of Minneapolis and St. Paul along University and Washington avenues when it's completed in 2014.

The Funders Collaborative in January 2011 commissioned a study that projected that public and private spending stemming from the Central Corridor light-rail transit line is estimated to total $6.78 billion over the next 20 years.

The University Avenue Business Association, which includes a group of business leaders from the area, told Twin Cities Business in August that the loans available to businesses near the light-rail were only a fraction of what is needed to support those that have been adversely affected by construction.

Minnesota Public Radio reported in late November that a significant portion of the light-rail line is completed along University Avenue, and several miles of the street have been reopened to traffic.