Minneapolis small business pilot teaches bookkeeping skills

A drone view of the City of Minneapolis. (FOX 9)

The City of Minneapolis announced positive results after a year of a first-of-its-kind pilot program meant to assist small businesses in complying 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 news release from the city.

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

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

"We’ve got the most unique and innovative small businesses anywhere," said Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Fry in a written statement. "When Minneapolis became the first in the nation to create this pilot program, we had one goal in mind: help our small businesses succeed. Thanks to MCCD [Metropolitan Consortium of Commnity Developers], Main Street Alliance, Rutgers University, and our City staff, we’ve supported more than 50 local businesses — and most importantly, we’re doing this work together."

The project was reportedly done with $125,000 in American Rescue Plan Act funding that was secured by Ward 11 Council Member Emily Koski.

The project included support functions such as 10 hours of bookkeeping training and support, along with 12 months of free electronic payroll, bookkeeping and timekeeping software.

The City said this was all part of Phase One of the project, with partners learning the vital role of bookkeepers from within the community as they become trusted advisors for business owners.

Phase Two, which is now underway, focuses on community bookkeepers as the most likely entrance point to help ensure small I-BIPOC businesses are complying with local labor laws, according to the city.

More information can be found on the Workplace Justice lab website.

A news conference on the project can be found on the City of Minneapolis YouTube channel.