Prominent business owners, company CEOs, lawyers and other leaders in Twin Cities commerce gather for worship services at Colonial Church.

With its array of business talent and acumen, the Edina church decided to launch a program this fall to help young entrepreneurs and start-up businesses and nonprofits.

Known as Innové -- French for "to have broken new ground" -- the church program plans to dole out $250,000 and offer office space on its campus to up-and-coming businesses and nonprofits. Dozens of the church's congregants who are business professionals also plan to mentor the newcomers.

Brian Jones, the church's minister of mission and outreach and an Innové organizer, said the congregation recently sold land adjacent to the church and wanted to "do some good" with money from the transaction.

"We have a congregation; they're just smart, successful, faithful people," Jones said. "They wanted to be able to use their experience and their faith together. ...

"We had the capacity to do a lot of mentoring and skills coaching."

Jones said the church, which has close to 1,500 members, already performs charitable work that helps the poor and needy and wanted to try a different kind of giving back, he said.

Applicants for the Innové program should be 35 years old or younger. The deadline for application is Jan. 11. So far, about a dozen people have applied, Jones said. More information is available at

Prospective applicants "could be in the totally embryonic stage, brand new," Jones said. "It can be an existing nonprofit that just needs a little boost to get to the next level or an existing nonprofit that's looking to roll out a new initiative. It can be a broad range between a brand new idea or an established idea. It can be a for-profit or nonprofit.

"Ultimately, we want them to flourish and succeed and be sustainable."

Rose French • 612-673-4352