Rochester Innovation

Grant Program


Program Overview

NOTE: The application period for this grant program is now closed. Awardees to be notified by October 1, 2021. Awardees will have until November 5, 2021 to complete their projects, with reimbursement checks to be mailed around the 1st and 15th of October and November.
Rochester Area Economic Development, Inc. (RAEDI) will oversee the Rochester Innovation Grant Program (RIGP). This program is part of the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Program approved by the City Council and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, and funded by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act to prevent, prepare for, and respond to coronavirus pandemic.

To provide emergency assistance to small local businesses in Rochester adversely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, the RIGP will provide grants of up to $5,000 to small businesses innovating their business model, approach, or services in response to the pandemic.

Grant funds will help businesses pay for new innovation projects, including (but not limited to) new websites for online ordering, physical space renovations, operations improvements, etc. Grants must be used to cover costs paid to a third party, and cannot be used for normal operational expenses, including (but not limited to) rent/mortgage payments, advertising fees, utilities, payments to suppliers, payroll expenses, other expenses incurred in the regular course of business, or any tax obligations. Providing this support will increase the capacity of small businesses with a permanent physical presence in the city to rebound from the current crisis and will help mitigate potential future scenarios.

A total of up to $209,000 is available for grant awards, with a priority given to historically under-served businesses (women-, military veteran-, and ethnic or racial minority-owned businesses). Any for-profit business started before July 1, 2021 is welcome to apply. Home-based businesses are eligible for this program.

Awards will be disbursed and administered by Rochester Area Economic Development, Inc. (RAEDI), a 501(c)(6) non-profit organization. Grant funds received by individual businesses shall be used to cover innovation expenses since July 1, 2021. Receipt of payment to a 3rd party must be provided to RAEDI and approved before grant funds will be disbursed to the business. These funds cannot be used to pay for expenses that are being funded by other COVID-19 related programs. These are grants and no repayment will be required; they are not loans.

Applications for the Rochester Innovation Grant Program open on Friday, September 3, 2021 at 12 noon, and will be accepted until 11:59 p.m. on Sunday, September 19, 2021. Applications will be processed over the following weeks, with awardees to be notified by October 1, 2021. Awardees will have until November 5, 2021 to complete their projects, with reimbursement checks to be mailed around the 1st and 15th of October and November.

Preliminary grant awards will be based on quotes or receipts received between July 1, 2021 and the date the application is submitted. Final paid-in-full receipts from 3rd-party providers must be submitted by November 5, 2021 to receive grant funds. Awardees who have not yet completed their project at the time of submission will be sent a link to submit final receipts separately.

To qualify, an applicant must:
  • Be a private for-profit business that has a permanent physical location within the city limits of Rochester, MN.
  • Be in operation with all required filings with the Minnesota Secretary of State before July 1, 2021.
  • Be majority-owned by a permanent resident of Minnesota.
  • Be in good standing with the Minnesota Secretary of State with no outstanding liens at the time of application.
  • Be in compliance with all State of Minnesota Executive Orders at the time of application.
  • Employ fewer than fifty (50) full-time equivalent (FTE) employees.
  • Document how the funds helped prevent, prepare for, or respond to the coronavirus pandemic.
Priority Considerations:
  • Businesses that are majority-owned by military veterans, women, and ethnic or racial minorities.
Other Conditions:
  • Please submit only one application per business. An eligible business may receive at most one grant under this program, which can cover multiple innovation projects, regardless of other related business locations.
  • A business owner may not receive grants for multiple businesses for which they have an ownership share of 20% or more.
  • A business must report any other funding received to pay for the activity in which this funding is used for. Duplication of benefits requirements apply to all CDBG-CV allocations to prevent, prepare for, and respond to coronavirus. Examples of federal funding which must be reported can be found here.
To complete your application, you will need:
  • Schedule C or equivalent form from your 2020 business tax returns OR filing for extension, if your business was operating in 2020;
  • Completed W-9, which you can download here;
  • Copy of quote or receipt from 3rd Party vendor for products or services linked to innovation project(s).
  • To answer the following questions:
    • What is the intended use for the Rochester Innovation Grant Program grant funds? Describe your project here.
    • How does this project help your business prevent, prepare for, or respond to the coronavirus pandemic?
You will also need proof of Minnesota residency of a majority owner of the company. You can submit ONE of the following:
  • Copy of Minnesota income tax return,
  • Copy of MN driver’s license or state ID,
  • Copy of current residential lease agreement or recent mortgage statement (on or after March 1st, 2020),
  • Copy of recent residential utility bill in owner's name (on or after March 1st, 2020), OR
  • Copy of DD 214 from DOD

IMPORTANT NOTE: Only PDF, DOC, DOCX, PNG, JPG, JPEG, or GIF file formats are supported.
IMPORTANT NOTE: All documentation MUST include company name in the name of the file, e.g. SamsBakery-ScheduleC.pdf

Additional Ineligible Businesses:

  • A franchise business with locations outside of Minnesota.
  • A 501(c)(3), 501(c)(6), or other non-profit business.
  • A business deriving income from passive investments without operational ties to operating businesses.
  • A business primarily focusing on speculative activities based on fluctuations in price rather than the normal course of trade.
  • A business earning more than half of its annual net revenue from lending.
  • A business engaging in pyramid sales, where a participant's primary incentive is based on the sales of an ever-increasing number of participants.
  • A business engaging in activities prohibited by federal law or applicable law in the local jurisdiction of the business.
  • A business engaging in gambling enterprises, unless the business earns less than 50% of its annual net revenue from lottery sales.
  • A business late in payment to any creditors by 60 days or more as of July 1, 2021.
  • A business permanently closed at the time this application is submitted.
  • A business wholly owned by City of Rochester employees.
  • A business owned in-whole or in-part by RAEDI employees.
If you have all the necessary documentation, this application should take less than 30 minutes to complete.

If you would like free, confidential assistance with your application or documentation, contact the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) or the Collider Foundation.

Guideline Translations: Arabic, Khmer, Somali, Spanish, and Vietnamese

Applications for this program were accepted Friday, September 3 - Sunday, September 19, 2021.

Contact us

Rochester Area Economic Development, Inc. (RAEDI) value proposition is the ability to assist businesses and entrepreneurs in securing the private and/or public resources needed to execute their business plans. RAEDI is pleased to assist you with your request.

Please call 507-288-0208, email, or fill out the form below.