Drafts, Head East Salon, Functionally Fit get B3 grants

Mike Christopherson

The B3 (Building Better Business) grant program launched by CHEDA a couple years ago continues to remain popular, with the CHEDA Board this week approving a trio of B3 grant requests, for Drafts Bar & Grill, Head East Salon, and Functionally Fit.

With all three of the recipients having to dramatically scale back their operations or entirely shut down for around two months due to stay-at-home orders resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, CHEDA Executive Director Craig Hoiseth noted that it’s likely local business owners, especially those impacted most by the pandemic, are taking these strange times as an opportunity to improve their business and enhance their amenities and flexibility on the fly when it comes to serving their customers.

By approving the three grants, which total $12,000, Hoiseth told his board that the B3 fund has a remaining balance of $17,000. With more local business owners considering B3 grant requests but not yet officially turning in their application, he hinted that the fund might need to be replenished.

B3 seeks to improve local businesses by offering grants of up to $5,000. That maximum can be met if the applicants are Crookston High School, University of Minnesota Crookston or Northland Community and Technical College graduates. Businesses can receive a maximum of two B3 grants during the life of the program, and the maximum amount for a second grant is $3,000. Successful applicants must also invest a percentage of their own dollars with each project, and if a granted business ceases to operate within two years of being funded, it must pay back at least half of the grant. Also, if a project is not completed within six months of being funded, 100% of the funds must be returned.

The CHEDA Board recently tweaked how funds are dispersed as well. Instead of simply giving a grant recipient a check for their grant amount up front, now grant recipients turn their project invoices in to CHEDA to be paid.

The latest trio of grants

• Drafts: Owners Brent and Jasmine Melsa, since its their second B3 grant – the first grant allowed them to better equip their food truck – will receive $3,000. The money will be spent on improvements to Drafts’ exterior, which will include fencing around the south and west side of the patio area. Exterior lighting will be added along with umbrellas and a gas fire pit in the patio area.

Inside, a new booth will be added and one will be repaired.

The total project cost is $6,536.90.

• Head East Salon: The salon owned by Kari Trudeau is located at 515 East Robert Street. Trudeau, a CHS and NCTC graduate, will receive the maximum $5,000 that will be applied to her total project cost of $22,632 for new flooring inside and new siding and windows for the exterior.

Hoiseth noted that Head East Salon is located on a busy “gateway” coming into Crookston, and it will be nice for the building to get an exterior “dress-up.”

• Functionally Fit: Owners Christel and Pete Vigness will receive $4,000. Christel is an NCTC graduate who started the business in her garage, expanded to Valley Technology Park in 2015, and then, in 2016, with an IRP loan from the City of Crookston, bought the JJs Bodyshop building on North Main to relocate her business.

The total project cost is $8,700, and Vigness is looking to pave the exterior area outside the fitness center to increase outdoor “boot camp” and fitness opportunities for both youth and adults. She has also recently removed some outdated equipment and is looking to buy some new equipment, including a “step mill.”

The paved portion outside would bump up against the paved City-owned lot on the corner.