The Northland Foundation has stepped into the role of host for the Northeast Minnesota Small Business Development Center, SBDC, in partnership with the former host, the University of Minnesota Duluth.
The SBDC provides technical assistance to help businesses start up, manage, and grow. Consultants are located in International Falls, Grand Rapids, Grand Marais, Virginia, Hibbing/Chisholm, and Duluth. They are located to be within approximately a 1.5 hour drive or less from anywhere in the region. JoAnn Smith serves as the local consultant.
“We’re excited about this opportunity to make a bigger impact on our region’s economy by serving as the local host for the Northeast Minnesota SBDC,” said Tony Sertich, Northland Foundation president. “Our goal is to make this transition seamless for all involved.”
“This is a natural fit for both of us. We serve the same seven-county region of Minnesota, and we have worked in the same economic development and entrepreneurship sphere for many years — the SBDC providing technical assistance to aspiring and existing business owners and Northland’s Business Finance Program offering development lending,” Sertich continued.
In 2018, the Northeast Minnesota SBDC spent 7,766 consulting hours serving 821 unique clients. Their clients assisted in creating more than 1,000 jobs and successfully raised $16.2 million to fund their businesses.
“I see the SBDC’s new relationship with the Northland Foundation as a positive for our region. The excellent services provided by the staff of the SBDC will continue to serve our businesses and entrepreneurs with the shared values and focus of the foundation,” said Elaine Hansen, recently retired SBDC regional director.
Funding from SBDC, the Northland Foundation, and partners including the Department of Iron Range Resources, the Natural Resources Research Institute, UMD and others ensures that services are provided at no charge to clients to help with market research, writing a business plan, seeking financing, training in business or accounting software, and much more. Services are provided to existing businesses and to help start-ups get off the ground.
The SBDC is a federal program supported at the state level and hosted regionally. There are a total of nine regional SBDC centers in Minnesota.