Welcoming Community: Business Ownership Equity

Championing business ownership equity is more than just a phrase; it’s a mission that can deeply enrich our communities and the people living within them. August, which is National Black Business Month, serves as a reminder of the importance of equitable, diverse business ownership throughout the Northland region. While we honor Black businesses this month, it’s equally vital to broaden our perspective and recognize the successes and challenges of business owners from a variety of backgrounds and underrepresented communities.

Every time a diverse business owner thrives, our community grows stronger. Equitable access to resources, opportunities, and support is crucial for allowing them to flourish and for harnessing the potential for innovation, economic growth, and community engagement. Yet, ensuring that a diverse range of business owners are empowered to operate in an equitable business environment isn’t always so straightforward.

In northeast Minnesota, we’re fortunate to have passionate individuals and groups who are committed to leveling the playing field for every business owner in the region. Further support and guidance is provided through partners such as the Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) on the state and national level. However, real progress toward equity often stems from ongoing, grassroots efforts. It’s therefore paramount to engage with and listen to the experiences of diverse business owners in our communities in order to nurture and support their endeavors more effectively.

Efforts to foster and sustain equitable business ownership might include:

  • Proactively identifying and dismantling systemic barriers to ensure every aspiring and established business owner has a framework with the tools and support they need to thrive.
  • Cultivating a community culture with inclusive mentorship, networking, and participation opportunities to create spaces where diverse voices aren’t just heard but are influential.
  • Ensuring that regulations and initiatives designed to uplift business ownership equity are actively implemented and prioritized to translate into tangible actions and support.

Embracing equitable business ownership allows us to celebrate and benefit from a diverse spectrum of innovation, resilience, and entrepreneurial spirit while realizing a more comprehensive view of equity throughout the Northland. For a deeper dive into the narratives and ongoing initiatives centered around business ownership equity in the Northland, visit the “Resources to Explore” section below.

“To build a business successfully, you must start small and dream big. In the journey of entrepreneurship, tenacity of purpose is supreme.” –Aliko Dangote

Continued Learning

The goal of the Welcoming Community program is to provide continued opportunities for learning and connection related to topics relevant to diversity, equity, and inclusion in our region. In our monthly emails, we highlight a specific equity topic and provide resources related to the monthly theme.

The theme for the month of August is Business Ownership Equity. When exploring the learnings in the Resources to Explore section, we ask that you consider the following question:

“In terms of business ownership equity in northeast Minnesota, where have we come from, where are we now, and what steps do we need to take to reach an equitable future?”

Resources to Explore

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Photo Credit: Jeremy Gardner, Ojibwemowining Digital Arts 

Register for the Third Annual Equity Summit: Belonging in Northeast Minnesota

We are thrilled to announce that registration for the Third Annual Equity Summit, Belonging in Northeast Minnesota, on October 4 is now open! The event will be hosted by Northspan in collaboration with regional and statewide partners. It provides a platform to discuss themes of justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion, paving the way for a more inclusive future in the Northland. Everyone is invited to attend, including community leaders, businesses, educators, artists, workforce and economic development, government, healthcare, philanthropists, and YOU!

The summit will be held in-person on October 4 from 8:00 AM to 4:00 PM at the Iron Trail Motors Event Center in Virginia, Minnesota. There is a non-refundable cost of $20 per person before August 31, or $40 until registration closes on September 20.

Learn More & Register

As an integral part of Northspan’s Welcoming Community Program, the summit aims to increase a sense of belonging in underrepresented community members and develop trust between individuals with different backgrounds and lived experiences throughout northeast Minnesota.

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Welcoming: In the News!

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Photo Credit: Jeremy Gardner, Ojibwemowining Digital Arts 

Welcoming Events Across the Northland

Many initiatives are ongoing to support Welcoming across northeast Minnesota. Listed below are some in-person and digital opportunities to explore and participate in!

Do you know about a connection opportunity we could highlight in an upcoming newsletter? Submit events to alewis@northspan.org by September 10, 2023.

Duluth-Superior Pride
August 31 -September 4
Learn more here

Non-Traditional Lenders Forum
September 6, Braham, MN

September 22, Two Harbors, MN

October 30, Iron Range

Gentle Movement at the Farmers Market
September 7 & 21, 4-5PM
Harrison Community Center/Club, Duluth, MN
Learn more here

Black Bears and Blueberries Publishing:
Indigenous Writers Gathering

September 8-9
Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College, Cloquet, MN
Learn more here

Lake Superior Harvest Festival
September 9, 10AM-4PM
Bayfront Festival Park, Duluth, MN
Learn more here

COGGS: Race Across Duluth (RAD)
September 9
Duluth Transverse Trail
Learn more here

Duluth Oktoberfest
September 15-17
Bayfront Festival Park, Duluth, MN
Learn more here

Transportation Equity Series Presents ‘The Engine Inside’
September 28, 6PM
Zeitgeist, Duluth, MN
Learn more here

Third Annual Equity Summit:
“Belonging in Northeast Minnesota”

October 4, 8AM-4PM
Iron Trail Motors Event Center, Virginia, MN
Learn more here

Third Annual Bridging the Gap Women’s 10 Mile
October 7, Duluth, MN
Learn more here

Sustainability Week
October 9-12
Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College, Cloquet, MN
Learn more here

Ongoing Events


Minnesota Council of Non-Profits
Various Events

Learn more here

MN Department of Health
Mental Well-Being and Resilience Learning Community

Learn more here

Boundary Waters Connect: Hello Neighbor
Learn more here

Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa
Ke Go Naa! Language Lessons
Learn more here

Arrowhead Area Agency on Aging
Classes, Workshops, Trainings
Learn more here

Age & Disabilities Odyssey Minnesota
Free Webinar Series
Learn more here

Entrepreneur Fund: Stride
Learn more here

Members Cooperative Credit Union
Financial Education Webinars
Learn more here

Banzai Financial Wellness Library

Minnesota Women’s Press Changemakers Alliance
Learn more here

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Invite a Friend

If you know others in your community who are interested in participating with Welcoming Community programming, please share this blog post so they can learn more & Click Here to join our email list.

Contact Northspan’s Welcoming Community Program Coordinator Amber Lewis at alewis@northspan.org with any questions.