No responses: April Kane
Describe how you see the small business climate.
Andrea Jenkins: Thriving in areas, it's exciting, very local and community engaged. We need to be mindful and proactive to avert gentrification or displacement and create neighbirhood plans that are sensible, accountable and benefits all.
Terry White: I would say it is thriving. Quite a few restaurants have opened or expanded in the last 10 years. There are also a number of businesses that have been in the neighborhood for over 10 years. Rents in the busy Lyndale area are going up and I was sad to see Delano's pizza close because of it.
David Holsinger: The 8th Ward has a mix of vibrant new businesses along some corridors (Nicollet Ave in Kingfield, for example) with some more neglected areas in need of better development (Chicago Ave in Bryant, as another). There are definitely concerns that new housing will bring more 'gentrified' businesses that serve newer residents better than long-established or lower income families. I would love to see more entrepreneurial companies move to the area - small technology or design firms, for example - that could extend the mix of businesses beyond some core retail and services.
There are great disparities between minority owned and white businesses in Minneapolis. Entrepreneurs and businesses of color face disparate challenges in everything from access to credit to navigating city licenses and regulations. What policies do you think are needed to increase minority and immigrant owned business ownership and success?
Andrea Jenkins: The largest obstacle to POC and women owned business is access to capital, next business planning experience, and then communicating with customers and clients. We need to support small business through organizations like MCCD, NDC, Women'sVenture, MEDA, Minority Contractor's Assn., and other groups engaged supporting and advocating for POC and Women owned businesses. We must make the bidding process at the City fairer, clearer and more accessible to smaller POC and Women owned business. We need a supportive and engaged Business Development organization that is commited to equity, I intend to support policies that promote these values.
Terry White: The Small and Underutilized Business Program should be expanded. Its intent is to redress discrimination in the marketplace. A scorecard should be developed that clearly shows the city's performance in directing budget dollars to these businesses. The Business Technical Assistance Program is also a good program that helps entrepreneurs, it should be supported.
David Holsinger: Licensing and regulation are extremely problematic for any new (or frankly, existing) business owner. Simply reducing the barriers to entry - waiving certain types of building permits or usage restrictions for new entrepreneurs - could be extremely useful. I am also strongly in favor of reducing or eliminating many occupational licensing requirements that can restrict access to service industry jobs. Immigrants in particular may come to Minneapolis with useful skills but could be stymied in applying them because of the need to meet state occupational licensing requirements.
Cities can do many things to support locally owned businesses. What ideas do you have to support locally owned businesses in Minneapolis?
Andrea Jenkins: Uniquely in Minneapolis we support neighborhood organizations, they have historically played a role in local business development, we need to continue to strengthen those efforts. We can support and institute mirco-lending for small home based entreprenuers and artists, who make up a large percentage of the creative economy. We need regulations on business to ensure that the public is safe and free from harm, but we need to make sure that entreprenuers are aware of those regulations by cleaning up the language and providing strong technical assistance. I believe the City coud and should do more to encourage and support Community Development Corporations to fill in where neighborhood organizations sometimes fall short.
Terry White: I'd like to see more partnership between the city and investors so that money is directed to small businesses on a fee-only basis. The importance of this system is that the investor does not become an owner. It allows the person(s) starting the business access to capital and expertise, but when their business grows, they retain proprietorship.
David Holsinger: To my comment above - I think incubator spaces are a fantastic way to support entrepreneurs and 'solo' or home-based businesses - however, they need to be funded by investors. The city can take an active role in working with private investors to make these spaces happen. I would support tax reductions and elimination of licensing and regulatory barriers that can make the first years of a new business difficult to manage.
What work have you done in your career to date to support locally owned businesses?
Andrea Jenkins: I have a Masters degree in economic development, I have been a small business owner and still operate a small consulting, publishing and production concern. I supported the development of the Midtown Exchange and Midtown Global Market. I supported the development of the Seward Co-op Expansion "The Friendship Store" on 38th Street. I worked with Kim Bartmann to navigate community relationships surrounding Pat's Tap and Tiny Dinner. I was involved with Z Puppets and the People's Movement Center to gain zoning approvals for their establishment. I have supported several other small business endeavors throughout my 25 + years of of community and public service.
Terry White: My wife is a small business owner, as were both my parents. I am very familiar with the risk, hardship, and challenges that come with small business. In particular, rising healthcare costs are a tremendous obstacle. I'd like to help businesses navigate this market so that it doesn't keep them from taking the leap.
David Holsinger: I work at a privately-held technology startup in St. Paul that has generated 50 new technology jobs; our growth will continue to have an impact in entrepreneurial technology space. In my own experience, my family owned an independent bookstore in the 90s that was driven out of business largely by the expansion of chains like Borders. (And ironically, the only bookstores to survive now are specialized, independently owned businesses). Personally, I try to shop at businesses like the Seward Co-Op rather than commercial grocery stores; I buy my hardware at the awesome Nicollet Ace Hardware, and I hire independent service providers based in my area for household work.
Would you support strong proactive outreach to businesses to inform them about earned sick and safe time, minimum wage, and other labor regulations?
Andrea Jenkins: Yes
Terry White: Yes, absolutely.
David Holsinger: I would - primarily because businesses need to know about policies that could have a strong impact on their hiring decisions. The city needs to be up front about labor costs before prospective business owners choose Minneapolis as a venue versus other localities with looser labor regulations.