NU small business grants in full force

Economic Development Director Heather Bregel and Midwest Detail Garage owner Adam Delacruz hold a $7,500 check, given to Delacruz after meeting all of the program’s requirements. For the first time ever, the amount given to each business went down from $10,000 to compensate for a record 14 businesses being accepted by the grant program.

NEW ULM — New Ulm’s Small Business Incentive Grants for 2024 are out in full force.

Of the 14 grants worth $7,500 approved, eight have already gone out to businesses within the first two months of 2024. This includes White Boxer Coffee, Rush, Midwest Detail Garage, and The Beauty Spot.

Economic Development Director Heather Bregel said the program was created in 2019 to aid new businesses.

“The small business incentive grant was started by the EDA in 2019 to help new businesses in New Ulm make it through that crucial first year with their overhead expenses,” she said. “Statistics show that businesses that make it through the first year tend to be able to make it long term.”

Not all businesses can apply for the grant. Bregel said they have to meet a range of qualifications to be considered.

“The business has to have a commercial address. The only in-home businesses that qualify are childcare. They have to have 10 or fewer full-time equivalent employees. That’s how we determine they’re a small business.”

Cala Contemporary Woodwork, Little Explorers Daycare, Sippet Coffee and Bagels, and The CBD Center were the first businesses to be approved for the program. Of those four, three are still in business today and the one that closed made it three years.

From 2019 to 2023, grant funding has been received by 31 businesses. Of those, 26 businesses are still open today. The five that have closed, only one closed before reaching the first-year mark.

The number of grants given out per year has varied based on funding availability and interest. Five grants of $10,000 each were first given out in 2021 after the two previous years saw grant opportunities go unused. In 2022, the number doubled to 10 grants thanks to a boost in funding from lawsuit proceeds.

This year saw the most grants given out ever, as 14 businesses were on the waitlist. To give grants to all the businesses, the funding amount was reduced to $7,500 and total funding was increased to $105,000. This year is the largest funding year in the program’s history.

Bregel said the grant is given out only after a series of qualifications are met.

“They’re eligible to be reimbursed for their startup expenses once they’ve been open at least three months,” she said. “They do have to submit expenses up to that dollar amount and proof of payment. Whatever they invested, they have to prove it’s been invested as a business expense.”

Once the business provides proof they’ve spent $7,500 in business expenses, meet with City Business Consultant Wendy Anderson, and submit a business plan, the grant money is released to them.

Bregel said the grant will continue to fluctuate and change from year to year as funding, demand, and city needs change. Currently the grant is closed, and will not be re-opened for applications until November. Once it opens, Bregel said this year the city will be looking to focus on need areas.

“Childcare I can definitely see being one of them,” she said. “We might want to focus more on restaurants and less on the beauty industry and insurance agencies. We are supposed to look at trends and where we think there might be gaps and come to [the EDA] with recommendations on certain types of businesses to be funded.”

The city has also been creating short articles on each business aided by the grant funding. For more information on businesses selected in 2024 for grant funding, visit https://newulmbusiness.com/news/.


Today's breaking news and more in your inbox

I'm interested in (please check all that apply)
Are you a paying subscriber to the newspaper?

Starting at $4.38/week.

Subscribe Today