Entrepreneurs have Resources Needed for Success in Wadena County!

Entrepreneurs have Resources Needed for Success in Wadena County! Main Photo

16 Nov 2021


Entrepreneurs are the driving force behind every community’s economic vitality. National Entrepreneur Day is November 16, a perfect time to raise awareness about these enterprising individuals and the assistance available to them in Wadena County and the surrounding area. The Economic Alliance is proud to help these drivers of economic development by connecting them with the resources and services available to assist them in their journey, as their success is closely tied to that of Wadena County.

The COVID-19 pandemic has pushed thousands of individuals to put their entrepreneurial ideas to the test by starting a business. The U.S. has seen a surge in business starts, with applications for new ventures increasing 24% in 2020 over 2019, according to data from the Census Bureau. Minnesota had 52,919 new applications, a 15% increase over the previous year. 

In Wadena County, the entrepreneurs behind those new business starts face much risk and uncertainty as they seek to make their ideas a reality. But they are fortunate to have access to many programs and resources that help them fulfill their vital role in developing a healthy and growing community through job creation and overall economic resiliency.

Resources for Wadena County Entrepreneurs

While the Economic Alliance does provide one-on-one business consultation and group classes, its true strength is as a conduit between entrepreneurs and the wonderful assistance available in Wadena County, as well as from the State of Minnesota. Many quality resources exist to assist small businesses and prospective entrepreneurs, such as free consulting on market intelligence, business development connections and site selection assistance.

Located at Central Lakes College, just to the east of Wadena County in Brainerd, is the North Central Region Small Business Development Center, part of a nationwide consortium dedicated to helping small businesses. The North Central Region SBDC’s mission is to improve economic growth by providing assistance to small businesses. Its services are either free or at minimal cost and cover every stage of the business development cycle. Its business readiness assessment process helps increase the number of new business startups. Market guidance and proven growth techniques help small businesses expand and stay ahead of the game.

The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) is an excellent resource for those seeking to start a business. Topics cover the entire gamut of business startup and operation, from forming a business plan to financing, licensing and permitting requirements. 

The Women’s Business Alliance (WBA), a program of the Entrepreneur Fund, provides specialized advising, training, networking and access to capital for women entrepreneurs in Wadena County. The WBA provides women business owners with services and resources to grow, finance or start a business. 

Financing Resources

One significant obstacle to entrepreneurs as they begin their business ownership is the lack of available funding. Wadena County has several institutions that specialize in financing options with entrepreneurs and small business owners in mind. 

North Central Economic Development Association (NCEDA) provides opportunities for small business owners through regional financial assistance. NCEDA offers three lending programs for entrepreneurs. The Micro-lending program provides USDA-backed loans in the amounts of $1,000 to $50,000 to small business startup or expansion project applicants. Its Revolving Loan Fund, commonly referred to as Gap Financing, involves larger loans from $35,000 to $100,000 for eligible items such as machinery, equipment and various acquisition or improvement costs. Lastly, NCEDA is provided funds from DEED for a Minnesota Emerging Entrepreneur Loan Program. Funds are designated for businesses owned and operated by minorities, low-income persons, women, veterans and persons with disabilities.

The Initiative Foundation has assisted economic opportunity in Central Minnesota since 1986 by lending funds to local entrepreneurs and small businesses. It is a Community Development Financial Institution, a designation from the U.S. Department of the Treasury that certifies it meets stringent requirements as a financing entity with a primary mission of promoting community development. Its loans include Gap Financing for value-added agriculture and manufacturing companies, those for business equipment and real estate and nonprofit organizations projects involving working capital, equipment acquisition and facility improvements. Contact the Foundation’s Senior Business Finance Manager Dan Bullert, (320) 631-2013 to apply.

The Todd-Wadena Electric Cooperative (TWEC) is involved in economic development in the region as well. It has two programs dedicated to sustainable community development through job creation and infrastructure improvements. The Revolving Economic Development Loan is provided by TWEC at a minimum of $10,000 and a maximum being project-specific. The Rural Economic Development Loan and Grant Program provide zero-interest financing by the USDA with the TWEC matching a percentage of the loan. The loan maximum is $2,000,000.

The West Central Telephone Association (WCTA) is a full-service cooperative telecom serving Wadena County and portions of the surrounding area. WCTA’s Rural Economic Loan program provides Gap Financing for local businesses as well. Contact Jennifer Grewe or Chad Bullock at (218) 837-5151 or toll-free at 1-800-945-2163 for more information. 

Support our Entrepreneurs

Starting a business is an exciting, yet daunting adventure. The Wadena County community is filled with knowledgeable individuals with fantastic ideas, just seeking the chance to get started. The Economic Alliance is grateful for the opportunity to assist these dynamic entrepreneurs as they seek to fulfill their dreams. To learn more about how the Economic Alliance can help with every aspect that comes along on that path, email us or call (218) 837-5950.