The Initiative Foundation is a regional Foundation serving the central Minnesota counties of Benton, Cass, Chisago, Crow Wing, Isanti, Kanabec, Mille Lacs, Morrison, Pine, Sherburne, Stearns, Todd, Wadena and Wright. Through leadership training, financial investments and resource referral the Foundation works with citizens to build and sustain healthy communities. Its business financing programs meet the "gap" between the financing a local lender is able to provide and the equity the owner is able to contribute.
- The Initiative Foundation exists for one purpose, to improve the quality of life in central
Minnesota. At the core of its work is the belief that local people possess the talent, passion and
ability to achieve a brighter future.
- As an action-driven catalyst and convener, the
Foundation brings people together to spark meaningful discussions and partnerships. Relentlessly
focusing on assets (what we have rather than what we lack), the Foundation's success depends on the
integrity of a shared vision and plan, the development of capable leaders, and the emergence of
- Because quality of life is determined by many factors, and each
community has its own assets and challenges, we intentionally pursue a broad spectrum of focus
areas. The following five focus areas represent the Foundation's highest priorities from 2007 to
- Economic Opportunity
- Key Places & Natural Resources
- Children, Youth & Families
- Organizational Effectiveness
- Fund Development
The Initiative Foundation serves over 160 communities located within the fourteen county central Minnesota regions. Over 40 percent of the cities in the region have populations of five hundred or fewer residents. The region includes 8.1 million acres of land including 1,454 lakes and 1,250 miles of rivers and streams. The region is experiencing population growth as four of the one hundred fastest growing counties in the United States are located within the Initiative Foundation's service area. However due to economic recession, all counties have unemployment rates higher then both the state and national rates.
- Since inception, the Initiative Foundation has made 805 loans totaling $32.9 million, leveraged
$216.6 million in private business investment, and created/retained 9,400 jobs. The foundation
offers business financing programs to meet diverse regional needs. These programs
- Direct Business Loan Fund (loans up to $250,000)
- Green Business Fund (loans up to $250,000)
- Microenterprise Loan Guaranty Fund (loans guarantees up to $50,000)
- Technology Capital Fund (loans up to $500,000)
- Seed Capital Fund (investments up to $50,000)
MINPACK in Pine City, Minnesota, owned by former 3M employee, Bob Thompson is a perfect example of such a strategy. So how does MINPACK fit into a rural economic development landscape? Pine City, a community of 3,200 located between the Twin Cities and Duluth, certainly qualifies as rural. And with a median income of less than $30,000 the issue was not the creation of new jobs, but the preservation of almost one hundred existing, high-salary jobs. When Thompson saw an opportunity to purchase the business, a “spin-off” of 3M, and save those local jobs, he received “gap-financing” from the Initiative Foundation.
“From the very beginning, the Initiative Foundation was keenly interested and committed to helping us,” says Thompson. And under Thompson’s leadership, MINPACK is continuing to make a positive impact on the economic life of east central Minnesota. “Our payroll of ninety nine employees is not something that could easily be replaced if it were to go away,” says Thompson. “Fortunately, our business continues to grow. That will be great for the community and the surrounding area.” Full Story