How much for Central Corridor business aid?

The official story from the Met Council on April , as repeated in MinnPost and MPRwas that there’s great news and new government money to help businesses along the Central Corridor. “Assistance to businesses along the Central Corridor LRT route will increase to $11.1 million, which now includes more than $6 million in forgivable loans and grants,” said the Met Council press release.

The University Avenue Business Association said that they were “happy to see the Met Council responding, but their announcement is confusing.”

They got that right.

“For example,” continues the UABA statement, the Met Council “refers to a $6 million forgivable loan and grant fund yet only $4 million is referenced in the ‘Funding components’ section. ” UABA also wants to know whether this loan fund, which previously included non-forgivable loans, has been changed. And, by the way, have the maximum per-business loan amount of $10,000 and the large amounts of paperwork to apply changed?

I tried to read the numbers carefully, since UABA said that “The amounts referenced in the release add up to slightly more than $10 million and not the stated $11.1 million.” A closer reading confused me even more. The Met Council list of funding components, according to my calculator, totaled neither the Met Council’s $11.1 million figure nor UABA’s “slightly more than $10 million,” but $9.163 million. Here’s the list from the Met Council press release—get out your calculator and see what you come up with.

Met Council list of funding components

  • “More than” $4 million in forgivable loans and grants for “small businesses that prepare for construction but still suffer revenue losses that make it difficult to meet expenses;”
  • $2.1 million in forgivable loans for the Neighborhood Commercial Parking Pilot Program in St. Paul (already announced in 2010);
  • “$850,000 in loan, grant and Program Related Investment (PRI) funds to assist targeted businesses with significant growth opportunities and/or that are in a position to buy or improve their own buildings with the goal of reinforcing the importance of locally- and minority-owned businesses to the Central Corridor” (not clear whether this is new money or previously announced);
  • $150,000 for façade-improvement matching grants to corridor businesses from the City of Minneapolis;
  • $675,000 for no-cost technical assistance for businesses to improve their business plans;
  • $250,000 in marketing support in the form of cooperative advertising and fares from Metro Transit;
  • $153,000 already committed to business technical and marketing support in the corridor by the City of Minneapolis (already committed), with another $60,000 expected in 2011;
  • $125,000 in philanthropic support to lead a grassroots “Buy Local” marketing campaign by the Midway Chamber of Commerce;
  • Signage and alley improvement in St. Paul – $800,000;

UABA’s press release also points out that, “The March, 2011 Supplemental Environmental Assessment prepared by the Met Council states that of the $8.7 million in mitigation measures adopted, $4 million was for the salaries of the outreach coordinators.” I know they’re working, because I get lots of press releases from them every week.

For information on what roads, intersections, and sidewalks are closed (or open), go to http://www.metrocouncil.org/transportation/ccorridor/construction/overview.asp. Metro Transit has information on bus stops, many of which are closed or relocated during construction at http://metrotransit.org/construction.

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