Business development program gets results in first year
In its first year serving Dakota County, the Open to Business program had enough successes to suggest there is demand for the program to continue.
Open to Business recently released its 2013 final report in which the group broke down its year. The Dakota County Community Development Agency and 11 cities partnered with the Metropolitan Consortium of Community Developers to create the program, which provides counseling to small businesses and people considering going into business for themselves.
In its first year Open to Business Dakota County helped 136 businesses and entrepreneurs.
Open to Business is available to anyone who owns or is thinking about starting a business. The program offers one-on-one business counseling and has resources and staff with experience in fields including financial management, bookkeeping, business planning, real estate analysis, marketing, strategic planning, regulations and more.The program also has a small-business loan program available. In 2013 Open to Business provided $278,429 in loans for 19 businesses in the area.Monthly, consultant Laurie Crowe sets up shop in Farmington and Rosemount city halls. In 2013, 10 Rosemount residents and 10 Farmington residents used the Open to Business program, according to the year’s final report.Rosemount community development director Kim Lindquist said she hopes as people become more familiar with the program they will access the resource available through the program more. Lindquist said she feels participation in the program is a good investment into Rosemount’s business community. She said the city could not offer the depth and breadth of services that Open to Business does.To highlight the program and the tools it offers, a free workshop will be held March 6 at Valleywood Golf Course in Apple Valley. The workshop, called Open to Business Dakota County: New Tools for Lenders, Entrepreneurs and Small Business will cover new financial tools and resources available to entrepreneurs and small business owners through the program.The workshop is being put on as a partnership between the Dakota County Community Development Agency, Dakota County Cities and the Dakota Scott Workforce Investment Board.For more information about the event or to register call 651-675-4432 or go to http://opentobusiness2014.eventbrite.com.Can’t make the workshop? For Rosemount, a consultant provides counseling from 1 to 3 p.m. the fourth Wednesday of the month at city hall. A consultant is at Farmington City Hall the fourth Tuesday of the month from 9 to 11 a.m.