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Partnership offers help to businesses

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It's tough to start and run your own business. But the people who are brave enough to do so make many communities run.

To help those people thrive, the city of Rosemount and the Dakota County Community Development Agency have partnered to bring an Open to Business consultant to town once a month to offer their counseling services.

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Additionally the consultant, Laurie Crow, will be available to residents by appointments on an ongoing basis.

"We are hoping to get existing businesses or people looking to start business to come in," said Rosemount Community Development Director Kim Lindquist.

Open to Business is a program that provides free one-on-one business counseling to current and prospective entrepreneurs. Program manager Rob Smolund said the programs offers non-biased advice to people on business matters. Smolund said the consultant can be a sounding board for potential business ideas or can offer advice on a variety of business topics including financial management, bookkeeping, business planning, real estate analysis, marketing, strategic planning, regulations and more.

"There's no barrier to access. You don't have to even have a business plan to come in and talk to a consultant. We want existing businesses too," said Smolund.

In addition, Smolund said Open to Business offers business loans. He said the program can work with people to determine what is appropriate.

Open to Business started as a partnership between the City of Brooklyn Park and the nonprofit community development organization Metropolitan Consortium of Community Developers.

Since 2010 the program has grown to serve 17 communities, serving 1.4 million people in Dakota and Hennepin counties.

Smolund said the program has helped provide guidance to successful business.

On another note, Smolund said they have helped people not go into business too. Smolund said consultants want to help people succeed and will be upfront about bad business concepts.

Laurie Crow will serve all of the cities in Dakota County. As an entrepreneur herself, Smolund said Crow has a breadth of knowledge.

In Rosemount, Crow will provide counseling from 1 to 3 p.m. the fourth Wednesday of the month at city hall. The first session will be held Feb. 27.

To set up an appointment for any other time, contact Crow at 952-484-3107.

The city invested in the program, Lindquist said because the program is in line with the port authority's efforts to start a business incubator program. Lindquist said they feel the program offers a valuable serve and could help create and retain jobs in Rosemount.

The program also will offer consulting in Apple Valley, Burnsville, Eagan, Farmington, Hastings, Inver Grove Heights, Lakeville, South St. Paul and West St. Paul.

There is more information available on the city's website as well at www.ci.rosemount.mn.us.

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Emily Zimmer
Emily Zimmer has worked as a staff writer for the Rosemount Town Pages since 2007. She has a degree in journalism from Minnesota State University, Mankato. Outside of work, Emily enjoys running, reading and gardening. You can follow Emily's gardening adventures at the Areavoices blog East of Weedin'
(651) 460-6606
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