Minnesota Avenue Small Business Resilience Fund Supports Entrepreneurs During Economic Uncertainty

Grants from Minnesota Avenue Main Street mitigate impact of streetscape projects, COVID-19

Washington, D.C. (June 18, 2020) – The Minnesota Avenue Main Street (MAMS), a program of the Washington Area Community Investment Fund (Wacif), today shared the impact of the Minnesota Avenue Small Business Resilience Fund (the Fund), supported by DC Department of Small and Local Business Development (DSLBD). Grantmaking through the Fund helps underserved entrepreneurs along the Minnesota Avenue corridor mitigate disruption from streetscape projects and remain resilient in the face of economic hardships brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. Minnesota Avenue is the District’s second largest commercial corridor east of the Anacostia River, and is slated for more than $100 million in investment in the years ahead.

“The Minnesota Avenue Small Business Resilience Fund has a direct impact on the Ward 7 business community, providing entrepreneurs an essential financial buffer as they endure ongoing construction projects and financial difficulties brought on by COVID-19.” said Wacif Minnesota Avenue Main Street Program Manager, Samantha Archibald. “MAMS remains committed to serving the Ward 7 businesses and residents that have anchored the community for years, ensuring that they will benefit from, and help accelerate the corridor’s growth.”

Now in its second year, the Fund was established to ensure that legacy small businesses can prosper in place and benefit from the significant development projects along the corridor. This year alone, MAMS awarded $80,000 in grants. More recently, the Fund has helped small businesses adapt to and mitigate the negative impact of COVID-19. The twelve grantees for the 2020 cycle include: All N’ 1 Medical Supplies & Treasures, Canaan Convenience Store, Comprehensive & Cosmetic Dental Center, Eclectic Café, Fresh Cuts Style and Barber, Liberty Tax, Market 7, Northside Medical Services Corporation, Sala Thai, Super Elegance, Therapeutic Sessions, and Yum’s Carry Out.

“The grant I received last month was a lifesaver for me,” said Wei Cao of Yum’s Carryout, “The month of April was really slow, and my business was going downhill. Thank you for helping, I really needed the funding to pay rent, and continue with my business.”

“This grant program has kept alive one of the only seated restaurants in Ward 7,” said Pramote Changsila of Sala Thai Minnesota Avenue. “It is our hope that we can continue to support the neighborhood.”

“Your tenacity and expertise were invaluable throughout the grant application process,” noted Dalton Howard, Esq. of Northside Medical Services Corporation, “We are also very impressed with your hands-on approach and dedication in working with various Minnesota Avenue merchants, including helping us improve our merchant management skills.”

The Minnesota Avenue Small Business Resilience Fund, and partnership with Wacif and DSLBD, is an important component of MAMS approach to ensure that the entrepreneurs and community are engaged in, and benefit from, the economic vitality of the corridor and access to capital. MAMS remains committed to continuing the dialogue with the community and public sector partners to adapt to the changing economy and infrastructure affecting businesses along the corridor.

The Fund is one example of new MAMS initiatives supporting small businesses in Ward 7. Over the past two years, MAMS has set the stage for equitable economic development by providing nearly $150,000 in resilience grants, in addition to rolling out tailored financial and small business advisory services, and mobilizing supportive resources through in-person engagement and partnership development. MAMS was honored to join DSLBD and other stakeholders to help host the annual Art All Night festival in 2018 and 2019. More recently, MAMS joined the Ward 7 Business Partnership and Marshall Heights Community Development Organization (MHCDO) to distribute more than 100 PPE equipment in preparation for the District’s Phase I reopening.

Minnesota Avenue Resilience Business Fund Grantees include:

All N’ 1 Medical Supplies & Treasures is a store managed by professionals with over 80 years of medical safety and service experience. Their vendors supply medical and dental equipment, cleaning, transportation, apparel, and staffing services.

Canaan Convenience Store is a community convenience store providing groceries, toiletries, and other essential household items.

Comprehensive & Cosmetic Dental Center is a provider of general, restorative, and cosmetic dental services with more than 60 years of experience helping families restore and enhance their smiles.

Eclectic Café is a Jamaican-American restaurant and catering service that serves a diverse palette of healthy breakfast, lunch, and dinner options.

Fresh Cuts Style and Barber is a barbershop that provides hair, cosmetic, and skincare services to men, women, and kids.

Liberty Tax is a tax preparation office with more than a decade of experience serving the Minnesota Avenue corridor and more than 1,000 clients annually, the majority of whom are Ward 7 residents.

Market 7 is a black-owned marketplace that plans to revitalize the economic stability, holistic health, and social needs of Ward 7 residents in Washington, DC through local entrepreneurs, strategic partners, and community investment.

Northside Medical Services Corporation is a provider of quality Occupational Health and Health screening services for individuals, local and regional businesses, and local and Federal government agencies.

Sala Thai is a Southeast Asian restaurant that specializes in spicy Thai cuisine.

Super Elegance is a salon that offers nail design and spa services.

Therapeutic Sessions– is a comprehensive physical and occupational therapy care center that helps patients eliminate or reduce pain to live more active lives. Their Doctors of Physical Therapy and patient care team have over 80 years of combined professional experience.

Yum’s Carry Out is a restaurant that serves authentic Chinese food and friendly service.


About the Minnesota Avenue Main Streets Program

Minnesota Avenue Main Street, a Downtown Ward 7 Initiative, was designated in 2017 and is operated by the Washington Area Community Investment Fund (Wacif). Minnesota Avenue Main Street aims to: revitalize the commercial corridor of Minnesota Ave NE and Benning Road NE, enhance the commercial district through clean teams and streetscape improvements, and promote the neighborhood, individual business owners, and entrepreneurs. Learn more at: www.minnesotaavemainstreet.org

About the Washington Area Community Investment Fund

The Washington Area Community Investment Fund, Inc. (Wacif) is one of the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area’s leading Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI) focused on small business development. Wacif’s mission is to increase equity and economic opportunity in underserved communities in the Washington, D.C. area by investing knowledge, social, and financial capital in low- and moderate-income entrepreneurs. In the last eight years, Wacif has invested over $10 million in underserved communities throughout the region. Learn more at: www.wacif.org.