Small businesses help Wadena County thrive!

Small businesses help Wadena County thrive! Main Photo

25 Apr 2023


From the thriving manufacturing company to the trusted healthcare providers or favorite downtown cafe, small, locally-owned businesses are the lifeblood of Wadena County. The Economic Alliance knows that these employers play a large role in contributing to the special quality of life found here. 

As the county’s economic development arm, the Economic Alliance works year-round to help small businesses operate efficiently in Wadena County. This spring is an important time to emphasize these entrepreneurs and business leaders with National Small Business Week.

Small Business Week April 30 - May 6

The first week of May is an excellent time to create awareness for small businesses’ considerable contribution to Wadena County. The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) has historically held its National Small Business Week in the first week of May each year, creating opportunities for national awareness and promoting small businesses locally.

Small business importance

In its 2022 Small Business Profile, the SBA Office of Advocacy indicated 61.7 million employees, or 46.4% of the entire U.S. employee workforce, worked for small businesses. The Minnesota Profile demonstrates 1.3 million employees, 46% of the state's workforce, at 534,397 small businesses, representing 99.4% of the state's businesses.

The American Independent Business Alliance illustrates the importance of small businesses in that independent locally-owned businesses recirculate 48% of their revenue locally compared to 13% by chain businesses. That increased local spending creates more local wealth and jobs because locally-owned businesses typically buy from other locally-owned businesses, which creates jobs.

Local support for small businesses

The Economic Alliance offers comprehensive services, resources and networking opportunities designed to help small businesses reduce their bottlenecks and operate efficiently. Many area resources also have specific expertise in various small business economic development areas. Some of the most significant are listed below:

  • The Initiative Foundation is a Community Development Financial Institution and creates economic opportunity through business financing for locally-owned businesses. 
  • The Rural Development Loan from West Central Telephone Association provides stop-gap finance to local businesses.
  • North Central Economic Development Association offers an option for commercial businesses to obtain adequate, affordable funding from the private capital marketplace, thereby creating or retaining permanent private sector full-time jobs in the region. NCEDA’s Revolving Loan Fund provides gap financing up to $100,000 for machinery, equipment, working capital and more. Businesses can also apply with NCEDA for the DEED Minnesota Emerging Entrepreneur Loan Program for loans to assist start-ups and expand businesses. 
  • The Todd-Wadena Electric Cooperative is dedicated to the region’s sustainable development. Its Revolving Economic Development Loan provides financing at a minimum of $10,000, with maximum hangouts determined by a loan committee on a project-by-project basis. The cooperative is also a service borrower for the USDA Rural Economic Development Loan and Grant Program, which offers zero-interest loans. 
  • The Small Business Development Center at the Central Lakes College campus in Staples assists small businesses to help economic development flourish in Wadena County. From learning to access necessary capital to business plan development and succession planning, entrepreneurs at every business stage can receive confidential, free one-on-one consulting. 
  • The Staples Economic Development Authority seeks to attract new businesses and help existing operations to expand. 
  • The City of Wadena Development Authority provides resources, tools and financing options to increase job opportunities from appropriate commercial and industrial development in Wadena. 
  • Central Lakes College and Minnesota State Wadena have the skilled leaders and resources to develop and deliver customized training for every business’ workforce development. 
  • The Central Minnesota SCORE office in nearby Brainerd has free mentoring, resources, tools and more for entrepreneurs to realize their dreams. 

Join us in celebrating National Small Business Week.

You can help celebrate National Small Business Week in several ways, including:

  • Visit your favorite small businesses and let them know how much you enjoy having them in the community. Small business owners work hard, sometimes without much time off, so a word of encouragement is always welcome!
  • Go out to eat one extra time, buy something special from a friend or for the house, or choose to purchase a product or service from someone locally instead of online.
  • Write reviews on Facebook, Google or Yelp for each small business that has provided you with excellent customer service. People read testimonials when making purchasing decisions or even when deciding where to grab lunch. Your positive review could help them earn more business and doesn’t cost you anything!

The Economic Alliance appreciates all the small businesses that have decided to make Wadena County their home. Please contact us today for help with all your needs.