Wells Fargo is investing $300,000 in the Duluth-based nonprofit Northland Foundation.

The investment is in the form of a 10-year equity-equivalent investment, also known as an EQ2. The investment will help the foundation offer loans to new and expanding small businesses in St. Louis, Carlton, Lake and Cook counties.

"The assistance from Well Fargo is appreciated and timely," John Elden, Northland Foundation's director of business finance, said in a news release. "The continued weak state of the economy has increased loan demand, particularly among otherwise viable businesses that are going through a rough patch due to the recession. We are already preparing to close on one $50,000 loan with the EQ2 proceeds, and we have several others in the pipeline."

Wells Fargo provided a $200,000 EQ2 to Northland Foundation in 2007.

"We are excited about the impact Northland Foundation will continue to have on small businesses in rural Minnesota communities," Jim Hanson, Wells Fargo regional president for Greater Minnesota, said in a news release announcing the investment today. "By supporting business start-ups and expansions, Northland will help create and retain jobs for low- and moderate-income individuals."