The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development announced that it is launching multiple pilot programs to assist small businesses in Minnesota expand and improve their operations.
The new programs announced include the Job Training Incentive Pilot Program, Innovation Voucher Pilot Program, and the Greater Minnesota Job Expansion Program.
Governor Mark Dayton said in a release that these pilot programs will give small businesses the support they need for growing and continue creating jobs in communities across Minnesota.
The Greater Minnesota Job Expansion Program offers small businesses outside the Twin Cities area sales tax refunds on all purchases made for a seven-year period.
In order to be eligible, small businesses must have been operating in Greater Minnesota for at least a year, and must commit to increasing their workforce at a single facility by two new employees or 10 percent of the existing workforce (whichever is greater) within three years.
The exact size of the sales tax refund (maximum of $2 million per year or $10 million over seven years) will be determined by the Minnesota Economic Development Department based on the investment and job creation associated with the project. This will be a performance-based incentive where DEED certifies businesses to participate, and then monitors their hiring and wage commitments.
The Innovation Voucher Pilot Program will offer small businesses up to $25,000 to help small businesses secure technical assistance and services from non-profits and higher educational institutions.
Voucher recipients, who need to put up a cash match of 50 percent of the voucher award, can redeem the vouchers for everything from research to product development, technical development, commercialization, technology exploration, market development and improved business practices.
The new Job Training Incentive Pilot Program is an extension of an existing program called the Minnesota Job Skills Partnership. The new program will offer grants of up to $50,000 for training workers being hired for new facilities or expansion projects.
Priority will be given under this program for projects in the IT, manufacturing and skilled production industries and for firms located in Greater Minnesota. Recipients need to have less than 150 existing workers, and should be increasing their workforce by at least 10 percent, with a minimum of five new jobs to be created.
Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development Commissioner Katie Clark Sieben said that these programs will help companies throughout Minnesota continue doing what they do best – creating jobs and driving innovation.