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Business program off to a good start

Open to Business consultant Laurie Crow talked at the Rosemount Business Luncheon about the success of the first-year in Dakota County.

Small businesses are the backbone of communities. The Open to Business program aims to aid those small businesses and help them succeed.

The program started in earnest in Dakota County at the beginning of the year. Laurie Crow, the Dakota County Open to Business consultant, said every month she travels more than 800 miles helping small businesses. On Tuesday, she spoke at the Rosemount Business Appreciation Luncheon.

Open to Business serves every major city in the county. Crow said it’s amazing to see cities actively supporting their small businesses.

“We are here to support everything and anything we can,” said Crow of Open to Business.

Open to Business provides one-on-one business counseling. The program has no limits. Crow, who is a small-business owner herself, said services range from providing basic information, to business lending to marketing and business planning. To date, the organization has lent $200,000 to a variety of businesses in Dakota County.

While Open to Business is there to help businesses, Crow said they also help people make tough decisions.

“We’re here to be the voice of reality,” said Crow.

Since starting, Crow has spent more than 2,000 hours with clients. She estimates that she’s met with more than 200 people. Most of the interest has been in service and retail industries.

“We’ve been very successful,” said Crow.

The success has cities like Rosemount excited to see what else the program can do to help local economies. Crow said Open to Business has already been extended through 2014.

“We’re extremely excited the cities in Dakota County have gotten behind small businesses,” said Crow.

Rosemount mayor Bill Droste said people opening small businesses take tremendous risks doing so but he said they are vital to a thriving community. He thanked the business owners in attendance at the business luncheon for their hard work in making Rosemount a great community.

“We have much to be thankful for,” said Droste.

Open to Business representatives set up shop once a month at each of the city halls they serve. Sessions are available from 1 to 3 p.m. the fourth Wednesday of the month at Rosemount City Hall. Farmington’s hours are 9 to 11 a.m. the fourth Tuesday of the month. Appointments can also be made by calling 952-484-3107.

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'
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