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Accelerate Entrepreneurs Grant Program

Accelerate Entrepreneurs is a grant program designed to help small businesses in the Department of Iron Range Resources & Rehabilitation Service Area adopt new technologies or services that will help them grow and increase revenue from outside the Service Area.

Participating businesses will receive a free expert consultation with Northland Small Business Development Center (SBDC)’s Regional Director to identify growth opportunities. After consultation and approval, businesses can receive up to 50% of their project costs, with grant awards ranging from $5,000 to $15,000.

Program Eligibility

  • Business must be located within the Department of Iron Range Resources & Rehabilitation Service Area.
  • Business must be a for-profit organization registered with the Office of the Minnesota Secretary of State.
  • Business owners must have invested equity into the business prior to the grant application.
  • Business can articulate an opportunity for revenue growth from customers outside the region and resulting benefits to communities and/or the economy within the Service Area.
  • Businesses will typically not be in a pre-revenue stage, with some exceptions.
  • Businesses in hospitality or retail industries must demonstrate an explicit opportunity to scale their business outside of the Service Area.
  • Accelerate Entrepreneurs projects must be completed after application approval. Grant reimbursement is not available for previously completed purchases.

How can I apply to Accelerate Entrepreneurs?

Eligible small businesses should follow these steps to access grant funding:

  1. Sign up for no-cost SBDC services if you are not already a client.
  2. Meet with Northland SBDC Regional Director Vicki Hagberg to review growth opportunities and project ideas.
  3. Request bids from vendors for your selected project.
  4. Complete and sign the Project Proposal Form. Attach copies of all required bids.
  5. Submit your application and attachments using the link in the application packet.
  6. If approved, execute a grant agreement with Northland Foundation and complete required paperwork.
  7. Receive an initial grant advance of 50% of the approved funding.
  8. Complete your project within 180 days or by October 1, 2025, whichever is sooner.
  9. Submit a reimbursement request for the remaining 50% of the grant award.

Application Timeline

Applications for the Accelerate Entrepreneurs grant program are accepted on a rolling basis while funds are available. Northland SBDC expects to approve between 5 and 8 applications in 2024 and 2025. Priority will be given to applicants who have not received an Accelerate Entrepreneurs grant in the past 3 years through September 30, 2024. The number of approved applications may vary based on available funding and the quality of applications received.

Interested businesses can view the detailed application packet and reimbursement and reporting requirements using the links below:

Grant Funding Details

  • Minimum grant award: $5,000
  • Maximum grant award: $15,000
  • Grant covers up to 50% of the total project cost
  • Initial advance: 50% of approved grant funding
  • Final reimbursement: Remaining 50% after project completion

Example project costs and grant awards:


Total Project Size
Business Responsibility
Grant Amount
Initial Grant Advance Amount
Final Reimbursement Amount
$10,000 (minimum) $5,000 $5,000 (minimum) $2,500 $2,500
$30,000 $15,000 $15,000 (maximum) $7,500 $7,500
$35,000 $20,000 $15,000 (maximum) $7,500 $7,500

Frequently Asked Questions

Eligible projects include investments in equipment or professional services that will spark new growth in the business and increase revenue from outside the Service Area. Examples of past projects include investing in high-tech manufacturing equipment, purchasing software that will expand the capabilities or efficiency of manufacturers, development of a new interactive website to drive direct to consumer sales from outside the region, and research and development costs to bring a new product to market.

Projects should be completed within 6 months of approval or by October 1, 2025, whichever is sooner.

A minimum of 2 bids are required for the proposed work, or a signed affidavit indicating that there is only one qualified service provider or vendor in the region.

No, the program provides an initial advance of 50% of the approved grant funding. The remaining 50% is reimbursed after project completion and submission of required documentation.

We recommend working with a tax professional to evaluate the taxability of this income for your specific business situation. The Northland Foundation will issue a 1099 for all grant recipients.

While the program typically focuses on established businesses, pre-revenue businesses may be considered in specific circumstances. A pre-revenue business may be eligible if:

  1. The grant assistance will directly impact bringing a product or service to market within the next 6 months.
  2. The business can clearly demonstrate how this support will lead to revenue generation and economic impact within the Service Area.
  3. The business has a solid plan for growth and can articulate how the grant will accelerate their path to revenue.

Most for-profit industries are eligible, with a focus on businesses that can increase revenue from outside the Service Area. While there are no strict industry restrictions, hospitality and retail businesses must demonstrate clear potential to scale beyond local markets. Tech, manufacturing, exports, and innovative service-based businesses often align well with the program’s goals, but all industries are encouraged to apply if they can show growth potential benefiting the Service Area economy.

Contact Information

For more information or to start the application process, please contact:

Vicki Hagberg
Northland SBDC Regional Director

The Accelerate Entrepreneurs Grant Program is supported through a partnership between Northland SBDC and the Department of Iron Range Resources & Rehabilitation.

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