And the Blackbird makes 1,000

I’m very pleased that tomorrow, I’ll be standing with the founder of the Geek Squad, Robert Stephens, to welcome the Blackbird Café — one of my favorite spots — to their new home at 38th St. and Nicollet Ave. At that time, we’re going to celebrate the fact that the Blackbird is the 1,000th recipient of a 2% small-business loan from the City of Minneapolis.

Robert Stephens will join us to drive home the point that helping small business with creative public resources works. They are the proof: the City helped the Geek Squad back when they were just a start-up, and now their black-and-white Volkswagen Bugs are everywhere. (You see nearly as many of them on the road as you do of the electric-green Nice Ride bikes…)

We’ll also be with Blackbird owners Gail Mollner and Chris Stevens, as well as with Dean Sanberg, the owner of a business that has just relocated to Minneapolis with the help of another 2% loan — WindRider International, which makes sailboats. I can hardly think of a more fitting business for the City of Lakes.

You might remember that last February 18, the Blackbird’s previous home at W. 50th St. and Bryant Ave. S. was destroyed in a fire, which sadly took out several other great small businesses as well. I’m very happy that we were able to help the Blackbird relocate to the 38th and Nicollet intersection, which is undergoing a wonderful revitalization with some great small businesses and a variety of City assistance. The Blackbird will be back open for business a little later this fall.

The 2% Loan Program is one of the City’s best tools for helping small businesses start and expand in Minneapolis, and it’s been an incredible success. The 1,000 loans that the City has made to small businesses, for a total of $28 million, have generated $87 million in private investment. What’s more, those 1,000 loans have created 2,000 jobs and retained 9,000 more in Minneapolis. And the success rate of the 2% loans is … 97%.

I’m excited for tomorrow and will tell you more about it then.

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