Economic Development Services

Main Street Organizing and corridor revitalization is a PRIORITY at ESNDC

We connect East Side business owners to a wide network of resources, including local lenders, private foundations, public funding, and opportunities.  We also offer technical assistance to support the growth and success of businesses

East Community Fund (ECF)

The East Community Fund (ECF) is a working capital loan fund for BIPOC business owners on the Eastside of St. Paul, with a specific focus on Black-owned businesses. The mission of the ECF is to create more inclusive economic pathways for BIPOC businesses to access capital and sustainably grow their businesses. Loan funds can be used for business purposes that include startup costs, supplies, inventory, equipment, lease expenses, purchasing a business, debt consolidation, and working capital. This is a low-barrier, low interest, human centered fund that is designed to remove qualification barriers to financial products and services and reduce lending disparities amongst the Eastside’s BIPOC business community. 

Individual loans are:

  • Fixed-rate loans that range from $1,000 to $20,000.
  • Interest rates lower than comparable for-profit and non-profit small business loan funds.
  • Flexible amortization schedules and opportunities to modify loan schedule.
  • No late fees.
  • No personal guarantees, financing agreements will not use personal assets for security unless the asset has been purchased with ECF funds.
  • Human-centered narrative application process that uses close relationships between loan officers, technical service providers, and potential loan recipients to establish a borrower’s reliability, rather than solely relying on racially bias metrics like credit score.
  • Technical Assistance will be provided to all applicants as a part of the loan review process that will be tailored to the applicants’ needs and position them to secure future funding from traditional lenders.

Business Investment Fund (BIF)

The Business Investment Fund (BIF) is a forgivable loan program for façade improvement and code remediation for small businesses in Payne Phalen and Dayton’s Bluff. These commercial development projects seek to increase the vibrancy and curb appeal of Eastside corridors and bring commercial buildings up to City and State codes. Previous projects have included storefront windows, exterior paint or murals, replacement or restoration of brick, new awning, lighting, signage, doors, and entryways.

Loans can range from $2,000 to $50,000 and are forgiven over a 6-year period. Applications are reviewed on a “first-come-first-serve” basis. BIF is funded through Community Development Block Grants from the City of St. Paul and U.S Department of Housing and Urban Development. ESNDC will assist small businesses in determining their eligibility for this program.

Friendly Storefronts

The Friendly Storefronts program helps small business owners enhance the visibility of their storefront and depict their own unique brand for their business.  ESNDC staff assists small business owners with designing and implementing façade improvements that will draw customer attention to individual businesses, create or reinforce their brand, and add art to streetscape. Previous projects have included mosaics, murals, signs, exterior paint, lighting, and tilework.  This program is open to businesses on the Payne and Arcade corridors (Ward 5).  Funding requests can be submitted for projects up to $10,000 and applications are considered on a “first-come-first serve” basis. 

No applications are currently being accepted. Check back in Spring 2024!


Black Business Network Powered by the Eastside

ESNDC’s sponsors and supports facilitation for this new networking space for Black entrepreneurs on the Eastside. These events are opportunities for Black business owners and entrepreneurs to connect with each other and learn about available small business resources.  

Interested in joining the Leadership Team or supporting the Network? Contact us to learn more.

For more information click Contact Us:

Get in touch

Feel Free to reach us!

Join us in supporting East Side local business and fostering a healthy and safe home environment for our community.


925 Payne Avenue. Suite 201, St. Paul, MN 55130


+1 651-288-8751


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