Small business pilot in Minneapolis teaches accounting skills

MINNEAPOLIS (FOX 9)The city of Minneapolis announced positive results after a year of a first-of-its-kind pilot program intended to help small businesses comply with its labor laws.

The program, known as the Small Business High-Road Labor Standards Intervention Pilot, was launched 18 months ago with the goal of strengthening I-BIPOC businesses’ compliance with Minneapolis labor laws, according to a press release from the city.

Officials say it has partnered with Rutgers University to help 55 minority-owned businesses by educating them on ways to use technology for their accounting and payroll.

The city says more than 100 small businesses applied to participate in the pilot in 2023 and 55 predominantly I-BIPOC small businesses in Minneapolis were selected, many of which were not in compliance with labor laws.

“We have the most unique and innovative small businesses in the world,” Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Fry said in a written statement. “When Minneapolis became the first in the nation to create this pilot program, we had one goal in mind: to help our small businesses succeed. Through the MCCD (Metropolitan Consortium of Community Developers), the Main Street Alliance, the Rutgers University and our city staff, we have supported more than 50 local businesses — and most importantly, we do this work together.”

The project was reportedly made possible with $125,000 in American Rescue Plan Act funding secured by Ward 11 council member Emily Koski.

The project included support features such as 10 hours of accounting training and support, as well as 12 months of free electronic payroll, accounting and timekeeping software.

The City said this is all part of the first phase of the project, with partners learning the vital role of accountants in the community as they become trusted advisors to business owners.

The second phase, which is currently underway, focuses on community accountants as the most likely entry point to ensure I-BIPOC small businesses comply with local labor laws, according to the city.

Further information can be found on the Workplace Justice Lab website.

A press conference on the project is available on the City of Minneapolis YouTube channel.