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4 Ideas Selected as Grant Finalists

Groups participated in event sponsored by University's Center for Innovation & Entrepreneurship.

Kristine Goodrich, Mankato Free Press, 7-5-2017

MANKATO — A hydroponic garden, a makerspace, an entrepreneur support organization and a moving homeless shelter are finalists for a $20,000 matching grant.

The groups recently participated in the Dream Big, Learn Big, Go Big event organized by the Minnesota State University, Mankato Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship and Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation. The new Minnesota State Mankato center aims to encourage local entrepreneurship.

Facilitator Pam Bishop, vice president of economic development with the Initiative Foundation, said she was pleased by the turnout of approximately 100 people from diverse backgrounds.

“There is a lot of passion and energy to create a culture of entrepreneurship in Mankato,” she said.
Seventeen projects were pitched. The attendees selected four not-for-profit ideas for further development.

The finalists include a project for developing hydroponic community gardens in shipping containers. Minnesota State Mankato students and community volunteers would help grow produce year-round.

Another advancing idea is an organization with a mission to “equip entrepreneurs with the toolbox they need to succeed with their business idea.” The organization would provide one-on-one customized support to launch a small businesses.

Two finalists were already in development.

A coalition of churches wants to sponsor a homeless shelter for men, women and families. The churches would take turns providing the shelter space.

Another group wants to establish a makerspace facility where entrepreneurs and artists could share tools for a variety of crafts. The cooperative would also offer space for members to work, hold classes and showcase their creations.

More comprehensive proposals will be developed over coming months and presented to a citizen committee in September.

The entire version of this story can be read in a print copy of the Mankato Free Press. Call the Mankato Free Press at 625-4451 or (800) 657-4662 to find out how to purchase a print copy. The Free Press also prints select stories online at

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