New Year’s Resolution: Help Businesses Focused on Improving Our Community

By Steve Coleman, Partner, Platinum Group

All of us are living different priorities today. Wise observers say we are experiencing in this pandemic what would have normally taken ten years to change. My personal awareness of what it means to live out a core value – do the right thing – has been sling-shotted into a top priority for 2021, no longer an idea of something that will eventually get done in my retirement years whenever they happen.

With all the challenges that surfaced in our community during 2020, I wondered how I could better help those in our community who need it the most, and do it in a manner most meaningful to them. The answer came by way of the Minneapolis Foundation and the National Christian Foundation, advocates for what are known as “generosity circles.” One forms when a passion or opportunity stirs someone into action toward helping others. Ideas, words, actions flow. Others take notice and want to join.

This is happening now with a generosity circle that seven Platinum Group colleagues and I formed called Community Ventures. We are committed to building a community of business entrepreneurs that develop, guide and find resources for deserving, under-resourced businesses in the Twin Cities.

Community Ventures works collaboratively with others to first identify a community need-focused company with established founders that will lead and protect their venture. Next, we gather a group of experienced businesspeople to work with those founders and help them articulate a compelling vision founded on core values that deserve to prosper. Third, we attract people with financial resources and connections that see this community venture as a deserving investment.

This three-part structure enables a credible story of addressing real community needs to find business skills, capital and connections that lead to sustainable and replicable business. And while new to us, this model has proven successful elsewhere. It has been used for years by Partners Worldwide, a non-profit that operates in 18 global communities. One of our members, Randy Kroll, has served on Partners’ board of directors for nearly 20 years.

Our focus is the Twin Cities and the timing is 2021. Already, we have met and are working with five potential candidates to take through the entire Community Ventures process. All are being encouraged to clarify their vision and core values as we help them develop a business statement that is believable and worthy of investment.

When ready, these leaders will receive...

  1. Mentoring, to help their organizations become strong, resilient enterprises;
  2. Training in proven ways to form, structure, staff and operate sustainable businesses;
  3. Alignment with local and national strategic partners who can provide access to capital and contacts that can open doors and bring new venture resources; and
  4. Advocacy from community institutions.

This new initiative is evolving as I write this. In addition to Randy, my other colleagues (Jeff Brown, Ron Leaf, Bob Lehmann, Kevin Nieuwsma, and Bob Stewart) and I are excited based on the positive feedback we have received thus far. Other supportive entities have emerged with complementary purposes. New sources of abundant generosity are emerging in response to the great needs evident right now. New advocates and volunteers are coming forward.

We are open to introductions from our metro community to deserving community needs that are under-resourced, and that show they are scrappy survivors with a heart to do the right thing. If you have an introduction or would like to talk further, please contact any one of us.

Steve Coleman

Jeff Brown

Bob Stewart

Randy Kroll

Ron Leaf

Kevin Nieuwsma