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Second Call by Policy Leaders to Grow ALANA Businesses

Bruce P. Corrie, PhD

Top ALANA (African Latino Asian and Native American)  leaders provided a rationale why Minnesota should grow ALANA businesses after viewing latest data on these businesses in Minnesota at the annual MDHR Symposium, December 3, 2015.

This follows an earlier meeting about two months ago where a wide range of community leaders urged policy action to grow ALANA businesses as reported in Chai

Latest data from the Survey of Business Owners showed that there were over 47,000 ALANA businesses in Minnesota with almost $9 billion in sales, providing over 60,000 jobs to Minnesotans with an annual payroll of $1.7 billion. The number of these businesses, jobs created, sales and annual payroll grew faster than non-ALANA businesses in Minnesota.

Gary Cunningham, President of, provided a rationale why it is important for Minnesota to nurture the growth of these businesses. ALANA business clients of MEDA alone had $1.4 billion in sales, employed 8000 Minnesotans with 85 percent providing health care coverage for their employees. However, Minnesota has only a $20 million loan pool to grow these businesses and not enough resources to provide technical assistance to help these businesses grow. Equity capital is the biggest barrier to growth,

Teshite Wako, CFO of NDC shared the NDC model of neighborhood based development that is now being extended nationally. The NDC asset based model builds on the assets of business owners at the neighborhood level, 95 percent of these entrepreneurs are low-income. However the default rate on loans to these entrepreneurs is only 8 percent. These entrepreneurs also serve as role models in their communities. There is a gap in much needed technical assistance for these entrepreneurs.

Pamela Standing of the Minnesota Indian Business Alliance shared the historical neglect of Native owned businesses in Minnesota and nationally. Her recent research documents how the Buy India Act is an example of such neglect. While the law was passed in 1903 the actual rules relating to the law was just released recently – 103 years of neglect! She provided an example of an equity fund that could be relevant for Minnesota. One of the biggest challenges is the lack of circulation of money within Native owned businesses. On average money stays in the community for only 30 seconds therein presenting the rationale for growing Native businesses on reservations.

Keith Baker of Everybody In focused on policy needed to grow the capacity to serve ALANA businesses. A recent Everybody In conference documented the level of capacity needed to grow ALANA businesses in Minnesota. Minnesota has existing tools that can help grow ALANA businesses in the form of state statute 16:c. However this statute is yet to be fully implemented. A model will be the current law allocating 2 percent of public projects to fund art work in those projects. Why not something similar to grow ALANA businesses?

Tsidira Jones, City of Saint Paul provided data to show the growth of utilization of ALANA businesses in Saint Paul since the last disparity study. One of the insights from this process is to make things happen we need accountability. compliance and enforcement of strategies to grow ALANA businesses.

Gene Gelgelu of AEDS, shared the vision of Little Africa as a viable strategy. Creative placemaking with ethnic art and culture at its core is a very effective way to both build the community as well as celebrate the cultural assets of ALANA communities. Little Africa does this by creating an African themed space where businesses flourish and connects these businesses through a virtual network. “You do not have to go to Africa to experience the rich cultures of Africa we have it all right here in Little Africa,” said Gelgelu.

The panel was moderated by Rowzat Shipchandler, Deputy Commissioner, MDHR.

For a data please see

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