President Joe Spencer sat down with us after six months on the job to talk about the Saint Paul Downtown Alliance’s goal to fill every corner and block of downtown Saint Paul with people and places that delight and surprise.
SUCCESS: GROWING XLFEET.COM
Adrian Coulter has large feet. He wears size 16 EEE and has struggled throughout his life to find stylish, comfortable shoes that fit.
Like many entrepreneurs, Adrian saw a gap in the market and started a business to fill it. He opened XLFeet.com, which he started in a room in his house in 2009.
Though the need was clear, Adrian, like many entrepreneurs of color, struggled to stabilize the business due to a lack of adequate funding. Additionally, a failed real estate investment took a toll on his credit and further limited his access to capital.
In 2016, Adrian connected with Metropolitan Economic Development Association (Meda), which provides loans and technical assistance to business owners of color. Through Meda, Adrian secured a $90,000 loan. This loan helped XLFeet.com stabilize and expand its business. Today, it is one of the most successful large-size shoe carriers, has 3 employees and generates $1.5 million in annual revenue.
How Program Related Investments Support Entrepreneurs
Adrian's loan was part of the East Metro Job Creation Loan Fund. The Saint Paul & Minnesota Foundations worked in cooperation with partners including F. R. Bigelow Foundation and the Katherine B. Andersen Fund to create the East Metro Job Creation Loan Fund, which works through community partners like Meda to create both capital and social returns.
The Foundations use Program Related Investments (PRIs) as a complement to its grantmaking and community leadership work. The Foundations' PRI portfolio supports community vitality through investments in business growth, job creation and affordable housing.