Entrepreneurial Resources

Starting a business takes work and the Greater Mankato Entrepreneurial Ecosystem is ready to support your organization. Greater Mankato Growth encourages businesses to utilize all of the available resources that exist to support their startup.

Greater Mankato Growth is a partner in Start-Up Southwest a Minnesota State University, Mankato-led regional hub of the Launch Minnesota Network, a statewide initiative to increase scalable entrepreneurship.

Whether you have just opened your business, newly moved to town, expanded to a new location, or have something else to celebrate, we want to hold a ribbon cutting for you. Because of our commitment to entrepreneurship, Greater Mankato Growth holds ribbon cuttings for all businesses, regardless of whether or not they become members. Still don’t have a physical location? We’ll hold a ribbon cutting for you in our office! Schedule a ribbon cutting today.

Thinking about starting a business?

The Small Business Association (SBA) offers a start-up toolbox to aspiring entrepreneurs. This toolbox includes a readiness assessment tool, entrepreneur questionnaire, and much more.

Minnesota State University Strategic Partnership Center is a meeting place for entrepreneurs and the connection center between the University and businesses/communities.

  • The first Wednesday of each month, two early-stage entrepreneurs present for 1 Million Cups followed by Q&A and networking time. This is an opportunity to share your business story, while focusing on challenges to which a supportive audience can assist.
  • Small and large meeting rooms are available for entrepreneurs to work alone or with clients. The building offers a shared conference room and a common café with refrigerator, microwave, and coffee maker. Free parking and next door to the new Food Truck Hub
  • Contact [email protected] for more information or to reserve a space (no charge, first come, first served).
  • Hours are 8:00 am – 4:00 pm, Monday through Friday, during the academic year.
SBDC (Small Business Development Center)
  • No cost, customized consulting for small businesses throughout their entire life cycle. The SBDC offers assistance in various business areas such as agribusiness, business planning, cyber-security, financial packaging, human resources, marketing, QuickBooks, research, succession planning, and much more. Go to myminnesotabusiness.com and hit the “apply for services” button to set up an appointment.
  • Start-Up Smart is a workshop for those considering an entrepreneurial venture. The participant will gain a basic understanding of the essential steps in launching a business venture. Start-Up Smart is offered frequently throughout the year. Visit the SBDC eCenter to view schedule and sign up for a session.
  • FastTrac is a ten-week long entrepreneurial development process to prepare emerging entrepreneurs in being business plan and business pitch ready. FastTrac is offered periodically throughout the year. Visit the SBDC eCenter to enroll in the next program.
Startup and Small Business Financing

Many new entrepreneurs are led to believe that there are significant pots of money available to support the launch of their business. In reality, it is very rare for funding opportunities to exist that don’t require repayment. Instead, we encourage businesses to explore traditional financing, gap financing, owner and investor equity, and the occasional grant. We hope the following funding opportunities will assist your launch. Businesses seeking to ensure they have explored all relevant programs are encouraged to contact Greater Mankato Growth.

Traditional lending is the most popular source of startup financing beyond owner equity. Greater Mankato Growth maintains a directory of financial institutions in the region.

The Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation (SMIF) manages multiple business financing programs that are available to both new entrepreneurs and existing businesses.

  • SMIF’s Business Loan Program can fill the gap between the amount of funding needed and what a traditional lending organization is willing to pay. SMIF offers loans of up to $200,000, which cannot be more than 50% of the total project cost. Businesses receiving these loans must be in the industries of bioscience, renewable energy, food/agriculture, manufacturing, or healthcare.
  • SMIF’s Building Blocks Loans can help expand or enhance licensed family childcare businesses with loans of up to $15,000 and technical assistance.
  • SMIF’s Emerging Entrepreneur Loan Program can support minority entrepreneurs who identify as Black, Indigenous, or People of Color (BIPOC) women, veterans, persons with disabilities, or low-income individuals. These loans can be made for up to $15,000.
  • SMIF’s Grow a Farmer Loan Program provides lower-interest (3%) loans of up to $15,000 to support small-scale farmers who are beginning or expanding their operations.
  • SMIF’s Small Enterprise Loan Program provides micro loans to service, retail, local foods, and manufacturing businesses. These loans can be up to $35,000.
  • SMIF has two equity funds, the Seed Fund provides $25,000 equity investments for various startup costs associated with innovative businesses. The Southern Minnesota Equity Fund provides investments of up to $100,000 for early-stage businesses raising between $100,000 to $3,000,000. Target business sectors are Medical Device and Diagnostics, Health and IT services, Technology, Ag Biotech, Software, and Energy.

Region Nine Development Commission manages a Revolving Loan Fund (RLF) for businesses that cannot receive adequate financing from private lenders. Loans can be made for up to $100,000. If requests are only for working capital, loans can be made up to $10,000

As Minnesota’s Startup Ecosystem Leader, Launch Minnesota maintains a database of capital resources and is the state’s main provider of startup grants

  • The Launch Minnesota Innovation Grants can provide $35,000 in 50% matching grants to support R&D, Direct Business Expenses, and technical assistance. Businesses applying for this grant must have an innovative technology, business model, or product with less than $1 million in total revenue.
  • Launch Minnesota maintains a directory of investors in Minnesota, which highlights the type of investments each firm makes and the best way to get in contact. The firms in this directory have average investments ranging from as low as $25,000 to as high as $4 million.

There are currently limited dollars available for sharia compliant financing and not all of the programs mentioned below have funding at all times

Business Planning Assistance 

Planning your restaurant business is a critical step. How much will you charge for your product, how many people will you need to hire, etc.

Business planning and mentoring service providers:

  • SCORE | Hosted by the Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation. SCORE is a volunteer organization that provides one-on-one business experience and expertise to aspiring or existing business owners. Contact Jennifer Heien at [email protected] or 507.214.7040 for more information.
  • Small Business Development Center (SBDC) | Minnesota State University, Mankato | 424 N. Riverfront Drive, Suite 210, Mankato, MN 56001 | 507.389.8875

Have more questions about starting a business within the Greater Mankato Region?