ST. JOSEPH -- The co-owner of Krewe Restaurant and Flour & Flower bakery in St. Joseph has been appointed to the Initiative Foundation's Board of Trustees.

Mateo Mackbee says the foundation helped him with a loan to open the businesses back in 2020 and now he wants to pay it forward.

He says he's hoping to reinforce the idea that it is possible for a person of color to be successful in central Minnesota.

We're the first black-owned business in St. Joe, and we're just trying to be a testament to hard work and perseverance, good ideas, and being able to put yourself in a position to be able to be successful and hopefully, that can be a beacon for other folks.

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He says he wanted to join the foundation's board to help other potential small business owners in communities throughout central Minnesota.

Keep these communities vibrant.  A lot of the rural communities in the state are struggling to keep businesses there, so hopefully, some of this work we do can help to revitalize them and allow folks to have opportunities that they may have thought did not exist for them.

Mackbee and his partner Erin Rae previously owned and operated a restaurant called Model Citizen in New London. They also operated a nonprofit called Model Citizen Youth Farm which used food to help grow leaders of tomorrow.

Mackbee began his three-year term on the Initiative Foundation board on May 1st.

The foundation serves 14 counties by offering business loans, nonprofit grants, leadership training, and donor services.

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