Mayor Frey Floats Idea to Boost BIPOC Businesses
City of Minneapolis

Mayor Frey Floats Idea to Boost BIPOC Businesses

Proposal would invest $1.17 million to help about 200 businesses
City of Minneapolis

Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey was joined by Minneapolis City Council members Andrea Jenkins and Linea Palmisano with other partners on Tuesday morning to announce a proposal for the city to invest up to $1.17 million to support rebuilding Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC)-owned businesses. The idea emerged from work done by the Minneapolis Forward: Community Now Coalition, a group of business, nonprofit and community partners that is developing strategies to transform the city in the wake of both social unrest and Covid-19.

“We’re investing $1.17 million in this work,” said Frey. “That $1.17 million will go towards around 200 businesses in our city, predominantly located around the corridors that were hardest hit by Covid-19 and the unrest following [the killing of] George Floyd.”

Frey said that the program will encourage business owners to invest in more sustainable and efficient lighting, HVAC and building systems, including solar. The businesses will get more assistance from utility partners of the Minneapolis Forward coalition.

“That money will go a long way,” said Frey. “That $1.17 million will leverage $15 million from our respective utilities, Xcel Energy as well as CenterPoint.”

Frey also estimated that the businesses would collectively save $1.5 million annually in energy costs.

At this point the idea remains a pitch in the mayor’s proposed budget for 2021. The city is in a deep financial crunch due to the near disappearance of many of its standard sources of tax revenue — such as entertainment, liquor and lodging taxes — in the wake of the pandemic.

Frey recently talked with Twin Cities Business about a range of issues facing the city, from public safety to the budget crunch.

“We have to be thinking about public safety, but we also have to be thinking about economic recovery as well,” said Jenkins, who serves as vice president of the city council. “We are intentionally investing in our overburdened BIPOC communities.”

Jenkins said that the program can help create a “community-led, clean-energy future.”

Asked if the proposal will draw City Council support in a tough budget climate, Jenkins said,

“I anticipate that my colleagues will be supportive of this initiative.”

The Minneapolis City Council typically approves a final budget for the city in mid-December.

Frey said that he is spending a lot of time reaching out to organizations that can contribute to helping rebuild the city.

“I spend huge chunks of my day calling foundational partners,” said Frey.