MANKATO

Nonprofits share $2.7M to aid small businesses

Eleven nonprofits around the state will split $2.7 million in state grants designed to help new businesses and entrepreneurs get on their feet.

The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) awarded the grants last week to nonprofits that provide technical assistance and services to fledgling businesses.

Among the outstate award recipients are Duluth's Entrepreneur Fund, which estimates it has helped "start, stabilize or expand more than 1,300 businesses" over the past two decades. The group will receive $404,000 in DEED funding over the next two years. In Mankato, the Minnesota State University Small Business Development Center will receive $246,000. The Red Lake Band of the Chippewa Indians will get $100,000 for its Entrepreneur Development Program. Another $90,000 will go to the Southwest State University Small Business Development Center in Marshall.

Jennifer Brooks @stribrooks

Bemidji

Ground broken on new regional shooting range

Supporters broke ground on the construction of a new regional shooting range about 6 miles northwest of Bemidji.

The $1.9 million Northland Regional Shooting Sports Park is designed to safely host multiple types of shooting. It is being built on tax-forfeited land, with money raised from private sources along with a $420,000 grant from the state Department of Natural Resources.

Approximately 200 acres, the range will be leased and run by the nonprofit Headwaters Shooting Sports Association, with subleases to the Bemidji Trap and Ski Club and the Bemidji Area Shooters Association.

Headwaters association chairman Mark Farabee said the range will host hunting clubs, police training, recreational and competitive shooting and youth education. Officials hope it will open late next summer.

"It is hoped that we could at least, at the start of the school year, have a fall high school clay target club," Farabee said. "But we are not going to operate the range until it's safe to operate."

Pam Louwagie @pamlouwagie

DULUTH

Ho-ho-no, Christmas music hits airwaves

'Tis the season for pumpkin spice and leaf peeping … and Christmas carols, for one Duluth radio station, at least.

Christmas music began airing this week on "Ho Ho 106.5" FM in Duluth and its sister station WEBCAM 560. Their parent company, Townsquare Media, explained to the Duluth News Tribune that the early onslaught of holiday tunes is a way to alert listeners that it is transitioning away from sports radio to a new format.

No word yet on whether the holiday format will jingle all the way to the actual holiday season.

Jennifer Brooks @stribrooks