BENSON, Minn. — Jenna Schiller is putting down new roots on Benson’s Main Street as she expands and rebrands her small business, Grace & Thorn Floral. Working with the Southwest Initiative Foundation’s (SWIF) Microenterprise Loan Program and the Benson Economic Development Authority, Schiller is renting commercial space downtown where she has room to offer classes, workshops and other gatherings. She previously ran her shop on the outskirts of town.
A florist for 10 years, Schiller grew up in floral shops watching her mother create art with flowers. The two still work together today.
“Neither of us have had formal floral design instruction; it’s just an inherent gift we truly enjoy,” Schiller said. “My favorite arrangements to make are those where the customer comes in excitedly wanting us to design something different and special, just for them, after seeing our art firsthand.”
Loan funds from SWIF helped Schiller purchase inventory and equipment, including new coolers, a sink and office furniture and equipment.
“It’s easy to see Jenna has a passion for flowers and loves what she does. The foundation is happy to support her with what she needs to grow in a new direction,” said SWIF Economic Development Officer Jackie Turner.
Loan programs have been a key function of SWIF since its inception to support communities and businesses throughout southwest Minnesota. In 2001, microlending was added to existing programs as a tool to support small businesses and people looking for self-employment opportunities.
Microloan clients receive free technical assistance from SWIF staff to improve their business management skills. Areas of support include business planning and financials analysis, QuickBooks training, marketing assistance and other training opportunities for the life of the loan.
This microloan program receives funding assistance from the U.S. Small Business Administration and U.S. Department of Agriculture. For more information, contact SWIF at 800-594-9480, 320-587-4848 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
About Southwest Initiative Foundation
Southwest Initiative Foundation (SWIF) is a nonprofit community foundation connecting people, investing in ideas and building communities to create a southwest Minnesota where all people thrive. Since its founding in 1986, SWIF has distributed more than $78 million through its grantmaking and business finance programs. Learn more at swifoundation.org.
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