The Minnesota United FC and Allianz Life Insurance have teamed up to help small businesses within a half-mile of Allianz Field in St. Paul get some relief from the pandemic’s economic disaster.

Using a $75,000 donation from the soccer team and the insurance giant, the Neighbors United Funding Collaborative is offering 30 grants of $2,500 to support retail or service based small businesses and nonprofits that have an annual revenue less than $3 million.

As of Tuesday, the fund had already received nearly 40 applications, according to Kate Mudge, executive director of the Hamline Midway Coalition. They will use a lottery to decide which businesses get the grants. The application is open until Monday and they hope to notify recipients by May 15.

The primary goal of the fund has been to support project ideas from residents, local businesses and community organizations to promote economic development and beautification near the stadium. But the needs of the community shifted because of COVID-19.

“[Businesses] said we need to make payroll and we need to make rent in order to survive this,” said Mudge. “That’s why we made the criteria fairly wide open and we are going to let businesses do whatever it is they need to do with these funds to survive this thing.”

Allianz is also matching up to $50,000 in donations to Keystone Community Services which operates a nearby food shelf.

This the first grant for the collaborative, which has been in the works since 2016. Mudge said they are hoping to leverage this donation to spur more support and offer more grants later in the year.

“This is the vision that I had hoped for when we passed the Community Benefits Resolution in 2016. I am excited it’s coming to fruition,” said First Ward Council Member Dai Thao in a statement.

Hamline University and Concordia University, St. Paul have also donated to the fund and even Minnesota United fans are kicking in.

Loons die-hard and Midway resident Scott Demeranville designed a jersey for the unofficial supporter group Midway Wanderers and $10 from each one sold is going to the fund. “One thing I want to do as a soccer fan is to come together with other fans to do some good in the world, not just cheer on a sports team,” he said.

 

Dylan Anderson (dylan.anderson@startribune.com) is a University of Minnesota student on assignment for the Star Tribune.