Timeline: A Successful $3.1 Million EDA Grant

The U.S. Economic Development Administration announced in a June 21 press release that the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe will receive $3.1 million in American Rescue Plan funds to support entrepreneurship with the Mille Lacs Tribal Economy Business Incubator (TEBI).   

The grant application process spanned across two years and involved a wide range of partners who came together to make the effort a success. It included extensive background work to prepare the TEBI concept for funding.   

Here’s an overview of the entire process:   

  • Fall 2020: Mille Lacs Corporate Ventures (MLCV), a political subdivision and for-profit corporation owned by the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe, launched a formal study on entrepreneurism in its Tribal Economy region and assessed the feasibility of a business incubator. It contracted with an array of partners to complete different aspects of the project, including market research, architectural drawings of buildings, the creation of a partnership agreement, and operating policies and procedures.
  • October to December 2020: Northspan conducted background research on the Tribal Economy and launched community surveys to guide the effort. It also compiled an entrepreneurial resources guide for the Tribal Economy region.
  • January to March 2021: Northspan facilitated seven focus groups across the Tribal Economy to determine the practical vision, mission, and broader feedback on the TEBI concept. This effort included hiring community coordinators from each of the Band’s three districts to recruit participants for the focus groups.
  • March to April 2021: Northspan compiled a 546-page report on the TEBI concept that included the work completed by all partner organizations on the project to position it for pursuit of federal funding.
  • Summer 2021: MLCV began exploring ways to fund the project and identified the American Rescue Plan Act Indigenous Communities program administered by the federal EDA as an ideal fit to support two of the four proposed incubators.
  • December 2021: MLCV tapped Northspan’s extensive experience with EDA grants to complete the application. Northspan worked in concert with MLCV staff and Stantec, an engineering firm that provided up-to-date project estimates, to develop a complete budget and narrative on how the proposed renovation of two MLCV-owned properties in Hinckley and Onamia into incubators could support regional economic growth.
  • January 2022: The Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe submitted the grant application.
  • February 2022: MLCV earned the 2022 Project of the Year Award from the Minnesota Economic Development Association for the TEBI concept.
  • June 2022: The grant was awarded to the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe. 

The grant will support TEBI’s initiatives to support entrepreneurialism throughout three districts of the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe reservation. 

“I am excited about our success to date, but even more excited about what the future holds for the Mille Lacs Tribal Economy Business Incubator,” shared MLCV Vice President of Business and Economic Development Dustin Goslin. “When we get the physical space built, what’s next? How can we keep rolling this ball forward? How BIG can we make this ripple?”   

You can find more information on the background of the Mille Lacs Tribal Economy Business Incubator here: TEBI Report 

Are you considering applying for an EDA grant, or wondering if a project would qualify for other types of funding? We’re here to answer your questions and assist you with the whole process — contact Northspan’s Karl Schuettler at kschuettler@northspan.org.