Small Business Relief Fund Announces Second Round of Funding  


Contact: Janie Moore, Director of Development & Communications

Phone: 218-623-5735



The Entrepreneur Fund, Northland Foundation, and The Northspan Group, Inc. are pleased to announce that the Small Business Relief Fund has awarded $100,000 in grant funding to northeast Minnesota businesses. This funding, which comes from the generous support of the Department of Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation, supports 29 businesses across the Taconite Assistance Area as they cope with revenue losses due to the COVID-19 crisis.

“We’re pleased to be able to assist another very deserving batch of local businesses,” said Shawn Wellnitz, the CEO of the Entrepreneur Fund. “These recipients include child care providers, hair salons, small resorts, and others who slipped through the cracks of other small business support programs.”

The Small Business Relief Fund received over 500 applications in a 12-hour period. The review committee selected the 29 businesses for awards based on eligibility, roles within their communities, ability to access other resources, and plans to adapt their offerings, if possible, in the COVID-19 era. The businesses come from 13 different school districts within the IRRR service area and a wide array of industries.

“So many small businesses face serious challenges in these unprecedented times,” said Northspan President & CEO Elissa Hansen. “We thank Iron Range Resources for their support and remain available to assist other area businesses as they seek to access other support programs.”

The Entrepreneur Fund launched the Small Business Relief Fund in March 2020 with an open call to individual donors to seed the fund. A first round of funding seeded by the Minnesota Disaster Relief Fund and several corporate and private donors supported 17 businesses in northeast Minnesota.

“These funds will help businesses pay utility bills, make loan payments, have inventory ready for when they can safely reopen, and keep their employees on the job,” added Northland Foundation President Tony Sertich. “We know it’s just a small piece of the total need, but we know that every bit helps.”

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About The Entrepreneur Fund
The Entrepreneur Fund is the resource for entrepreneurs in northeast Minnesota and northwest Wisconsin. The Entrepreneur Fund has fueled more than 15,000 businesses with expert support and funded over $70 million in loans since 1989. The Entrepreneur Fund is dedicated to strengthening entrepreneurship in the region, while also supporting and increasing economic development. Through this strategic approach, the Entrepreneur Fund promotes the entrepreneurial spirit and helps create economic wealth and diversity in northeast Minnesota and northwest Wisconsin. For more information, visit


About the Northland Foundation
The Northland Foundation is a publicly supported foundation serving seven northeastern Minnesota counties: Aitkin, Carlton, Cook, Itasca, Koochiching, Lake, and St. Louis, and all or parts of five Tribal Nations within the same geographic boundaries: Bois Forte Band of Chippewa, Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, Grand Portage Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe, and Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe. Through grant making, an operating program, business lending, and special initiatives, we help people and communities in our region to move forward together. For more information, visit

About The Northspan Group, Inc.
The Northspan Group, Inc. is a Duluth-based private non-profit development organization that has provided professional business, community, and organizational development consulting services since 1985. Northspan specializes in creative thinking, enterprising strategies, and systematic approaches to help businesses, communities, regions, and organizations prosper in a global economy. Our professional staff work cooperatively with economic and community development partners to leverage resources for measurable, sustainable results. For more information, visit