West Central Initiative

West Central Initiative (WCI) is the second Minnesota Initiative Foundation profiled in this report. It is particularly unusual in that WCI has been formally named by the U.S. Department of Commerce as the region’s Economic Development District designee. In this capacity, the foundation receives an annual planning grant from the Economic Development Administration, enabling it to oversee regional economic planning and to provide technical assistance to communities who apply for federal grants for public works infrastructure. WCI also runs a series of loan programs for business. Through grants to nonprofits specializing in business creation and expansion, WCI also is able to offer technical assistance to entrepreneurs. WCI has created an advanced manufacturing training program, Workforce 2020, which has trained more than 9,000 workers employed in locally owned manufacturing companies. A 2008 study of 30 participating firms found that companies increased sales by $15.1 million and reduced spending by $4.63 million. The foundation’s Family Economic Success Program targets grants to nonprofits developing asset-building strategies to help families build wealth and save for the future.

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