Feature Image: Tim Penny, SMIF CEO/President and Pam Bishop, SMIF VP Economic Development received grant support for Prosperity Initiative from Cindy Scheid, CLA Managing Principal of Tax / SMIF board member and Gregg Draeger, CLA Chief Practice Officer – Midwest.

OWATONNA, Minn., November 17, 2017 – Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation (SMIF) is thrilled to announce CliftonLarsonAllen Foundation’s (CLA) $25,000 grant to support 10 new minority-owned business leaders for a new cohort of its Prosperity Initiative. According to the US Census Bureau, 29% of Minnesota’s population in 2040 will be people of color, an increase from only 4% in 1980. In response to this rapid growth, The Prosperity Initiative was designed as a SMIF pilot project to provide education and business resources to minority business owners and educate resource partners of the barriers and opportunities these individuals encounter.

Thanks to the generous support of CLA the Prosperity Initiative is able to continue to provide directed, culturally sensitive programing, while also creating a unified and coordinated resource structure, informing partners of best practices and creating opportunities for minority populations to network and access the business community. All resources are free for participating businesses.

“CliftonLarsonAllen Foundation is delighted to support Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation’s Prosperity Initiative that supports emerging entrepreneurs who are an integral part of our communities. Through this program they are able to receive coaching, mentorship and resources to be successful and support our local economies. We are proud to be a funding partner for this impactful program,” said Gregg Draeger, Principal at CliftonLarsonAllen.

This new cohort of 10 businesses, receiving one-on-one business coaching, is made possible not only by the generous funding from CliftonLarsonAllen Foundation, but also The McKnight Foundation and Fred and Shelley Krahmer of Fairmont. The program started as a pilot in 2016 with a grant from Minnesota’s Department of Employment and Economic Development.

In the first two years, the Prosperity Initiative provided 27 clients with one-on-one business coaching including more than 1,500 hours of direct consulting. SMIF is using feedback from a participant evaluations to make the program even stronger going forward.

To learn more about how to become a business, or to nominate a business owner, contact Pam Bishop at pamb@smifoundation.org or 507-214-7013. You can also visit www.smifoundation.org.

About Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation

Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation (SMIF), a donor-supported foundation, invests for economic growth in the 20 counties of south central and southeastern Minnesota. The Foundation has provided more than $106 million in grants, loans and programming within the region during the past 31 years. SMIF’s key interests include early childhood, community and economic development. To learn more about our work and mission, visit www.smifoundation.org.


Jennifer Nelson
VP Development