Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation approved funding from its loan and equity funds to 31 businesses in 2018, investing more than $1.2 million in its 20-county region.

Four were from Waseca County. Evans Eatery LLC of New Richland, Pleasant Grove Pizza Farm in rural Waseca, and city of Waseca businesses Pippi Lane Boutique and Trio Coffee, Wine and Ale House all received funding from SMIF.

Evan’s Eatery is a new food truck business and used the loan to purchase the food trailer.

“After we were accepted for the loan it was a big boost of confidence that showed us that others believed in our vision,” owner-operator Daniel Miller said in an email. “We were very excited that this was going to happen and to really get the wheels rolling.”

Miller went on to say that since receiving the loan they have had additional help form SMIF staff to help their business grow, along with starting their first year in operation in June. Evan’s Eatery travels to various communities around the region, including serving at county fairs, city festivals, lunches, holiday parties, fundraisers, music festivals and other special requests.

“It has been a crazy and fun ride so far,” Miller said.

This pursuit of owning and operating a food truck started when Miller lost his job from Quad/Graphics when it announced its closure in late 2017. His wife, April, had already been done working there when she had their first child and chose to be a stay-at-home mom.

They pooled their funds and got the loan from SMIF and decided on a food truck. They wanted something they could build and be proud of, Miller said. The business was named after their son, Evan.

They serve a variety of food from hot sandwiches, burgers (beef and bison), quesadillas, to waffle fries and more. There will be two new items this year: homemade chili and “dumpster fries,” which are build your own entry. There will also be options for vegans and vegetarians.

Pippi Lane Boutique in Waseca focuses on women and children’s clothing and accessories. The company, currently located at 115 4th Street SW, used the SMIF loan for equipment, inventory and working capital. The business is planning a spring 2019 move to 405 West Elm Avenue.

According to a recent post on the Pippi Lane Boutique Facebook page, this new space will give the company warehouse space and allow them to expand into an expanded website, new departments to the storefront, and allow for and improved parking lot.

Pleasant Grove Pizza Farm at 41142 160th Street in rural Waseca is a 50-acre hobby farm where people can get homemade wood-fired pizzas. The company, which opened in 2015, used the loan for machinery, equipment and working capital.

Trio Coffee, Wine and Ale House at 100 North State Street in Waseca was also granted a loan from SMIF and used it for the purchase and the remodeling of the former Daily Grind coffee shop and restaurant. They offer a variety of wines and craft beers with food pairings to complement them. They also offer hot and cold brew coffees, teas, sodas and smoothies.

Funding for Evan’s Eatery, Pleasant Grove Pizza Farm and Pippi Lane Boutique was approved from SMIF’s Small Enterprise Loan Program. The funding for Trio Coffee, wine and Ale House was approved from SMIF’s Business Development Loan Fund.

The foundation, which has offices in Owatonna and serves a 20-county region of southern Minnesota, is a regional development and philanthropic organization that fosters economic and community vitality through a culture of collaboration and partnership.

It also mentions on the website that the six Minnesota Initiative Foundations were created by The McKnight Foundation in reaction to the 1986 farm crisis, the worst recession since the Great Depression, according to the foundation. The Initiative Funds, started as a “grand experiment,” have become “an enormously powerful and valuable regional institution, the website states.

The foundation has awarded more than $111 million in grants over its 32-year history.

Reach Reporter Bailey Grubish at 507-837-5451 or follow her on Twitter @wcnbailey.

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