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Small Business Support and Investment


CoO Grant Total


CoO Loan Total



Neighborhood Development Center

Project Manager

Isabel Chanslor,, 651-379-8431


U7 — the University Avenue Business Preparation Collaborative — is an effort led by the Neighborhood Development Center to help strengthen existing small businesses before, during and after the construction of the Central Corridor Light Rail project. Corridors of Opportunity, in partnership with the Central Corridor Funders Collaborative, funds these no- or low-cost small business support services provided by U7:

  • Results-Driven Marketing: One-on-one marketing and communications consulting, with an emphasis on customized small business products
  • On-site Business Consulting: Professional specialists in all business management areas with a focus on financial health consultations (budgeting, cash flow management and scenario planning)
  • Small Business Workshops: Many business topics available for free at Rondo Community Library, including: marketing, website development, demographic analysis, recordkeeping and cash flow projection
  • Marketing Assistance and Façade Improvement Grants: Funded with support from a Corridors of Opportunity grant, a federal earmark, and the City of Saint Paul’s 2010 Neighborhood STAR fund, these monies are used to provide opportunities for physical improvements and revitalization of commercial properties along University Avenue before, during, and after the Central Corridor Light Rail Transit (LRT) construction.
  • Loan Financing: The Corridors of Opportunity loan capital seeded two loan funds:
    • Small Business Expansion Fund: Assists a small, select group of targeted businesses on University Avenue who have a significant long-term growth opportunity and who can serve as a more visible anchor for the avenue, symbolizing the strong, long-term potential for ethnic and minority-owned businesses in this district
    • Small Business Building Ownership Fund: Assists locally- and minority-owned small businesses in purchasing their own building for the sake of promoting a long-term presence along the corridor 
  • Ready for Rail Forgivable Loan: Funded with resources from the Metropolitan Council and the Central Corridor Funders Collaborative, this fund provides forgivable loans to small businesses demonstrating a loss of revenue during the construction of the Green Line. Created to be a modest safety net for for-profit small businesses with no more than $2 million in annual gross sales, the forgivable loan may be used for basic business expenses, including payroll, inventory, rent/mortgage, utilities, taxes, marketing, and insurance. Up to $20,000 is available per business. Distributions are structured as 0% loans that are forgiven at the rate of 20% for each year for a total of five years if the business stays on the Central Corridor Light Rail Line.

► Click here to view an interactive book of U7’s 2013 Business Profile case studies

Or click here to download a simple PDF (44 pages)

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