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Pohlad Foundation, Chamber make business grants, loans available

WILLMAR -- Financial assistance is available businesses in west central Minnesota and around Minnesota to help during the current economic downturn and be poised for recovery

The grants and low-interest loans will be funded by the Pohlad Family Foundation of Minneapolis and will be administered through the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce and its Grow Minnesota program. The foundation has pledged $5 million.

Local businesses can apply through the Willmar Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce.

"We appreciate the generosity of the Pohlad family," said Ken Warner, president of the Willmar Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce. "We want to ensure this money not only preserves jobs, but also helps our local businesses get ready to grow."

Small businesses will have access to grants to retain employees while planning and adjusting for the future. Access to short-term, low-interest working capital and capital improvement loans also will be available to help continue operations and finance improvements consistent with a company's growth plans.

Businesses must apply to the local chamber, and each partner community in turn can initially recommend four applications for funding. A committee of small business owners will assist the Minnesota Chamber in deciding whether to award the money.

At least $5 million will be distributed - 60 percent for job retention or growth planning and 40 percent for loans. Eligible small businesses must be privately held, have fewer than 50 employees and generate annual sales of $10 million or less. For more information, call Warner at 235-0300.