Falls Theatre, Little Falls
Falls Theatre in Little Falls received a $192,789 grant that was used for a complete restoration project.

Revitalization Grants Leverage $47 Million in Improvements

Through a yearlong partnership with the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED), the Initiative Foundation awarded $4.3 million in grants to six communities in Central Minnesota. The grants leveraged an estimated $47 million in hometown improvements.

The Initiative Foundation worked with Brainerd, Cold Spring, Little Falls, Long Prairie, Pine River and St. Cloud to identify corridors that experienced COVID-19 impacts—from travel and tourism businesses to site improvement to upgrading commercial property vacancies. The Minnesota Main Street Revitalization Program provided for 30 percent matching grants and guaranteed loans for economic and redevelopment needs that surfaced following the March 2020 onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Businesses were required to secure the remaining 70 percent of funding. Brainerd, Cold Spring, Little Falls, Long Prairie, Pine River and St. Cloud met the deadline to apply for this special funding from DEED.

Major projects from each community include:

  • Brainerd: The construction of a downtown apartment building and an additional childcare building through the Brainerd Family YMCA.
  • Cold Spring: A new commercial real estate building is going up, which will house a woman-owned chiropractic clinic and other businesses.
  • Little Falls: Falls Theatre recently completed a significant remodeling project that revived a 1930s movie theater with art deco features.
  • Long Prairie: The exterior of the Chavez Event Center is getting a facelift.
  • St. Cloud: Funding is lending support to Great River Children’s Museum, opening this spring, and an East St. Cloud investment helped with the redevelopment of Harvester Square, which recently won project of the year from the Economic Development Association of Minnesota.
  • Pine River: Community Bowl & Pizzeria completed a remodel and installed new outdoor signage.

See the full list of grants broken down by city.

“The six communities that benefited from these grants are seeing some major updates and remodels in their business corridors,” said Don Hickman, vice president for community and workforce development at the Initiative Foundation. “We are thankful to DEED for this generous grant support and for the lasting impact it will have on these six communities.”

All projects must be completed within a 36-month window that will close in November 2025.

Grant totals were as follows for each eligible community:

  • Brainerd: $765,600
  • Cold Spring: $550,307
  • Little Falls: $625,774
  • Long Prairie $501,772
  • Pine River: $430,000
  • St. Cloud and East St Cloud: $1.38 million