By nature, you have to have a good amount of optimism to be an entrepreneur, so it makes sense that we saw an increase in interest from people wanting to open a business over the last two years in our region. In fact, business startups have increased significantly statewide. Minnesotans started 42 percent more businesses last year than in 2019, according to DEED Commissioner Steve Grove.
An entrepreneurial spirit is one of our region’s greatest assets. It’s been developed for generations, grown through our history of agriculture and innovation, and taken off to impact practically every industry while providing a global reach.
I anticipate this creative energy will only get stronger, especially as we see many new immigrants make their home in southwest Minnesota, bringing new ideas to the marketplace.
Fostering an entrepreneurial spirit is good for our communities, whether you run your own business or not. Business leaders are a key part of creating the type of community we all want to live in.
This issue, we’re spotlighting southwest Minnesotans who have launched something new. Even if you’ve never taken the leap to start your own business, the lessons of entrepreneurship offer something for each of us as we continue to navigate challenges we didn’t see coming and figure out how to thrive together. These are some of the same values that guide our work at the foundation.
First, stay curious. Remain open and responsive to opportunities in your community. They may spark something remarkable. Find the right balance of using experience and experimentation as you approach problem solving and ideas.
Second, look for ways to collaborate. I believe better results come from working together. Even though we bring different ideas to the table, there’s room for each person’s gifts as we work toward our goal.
Third, be optimistic! Keep aspiring to achieve great things. When faced with questions or challenges, I find a good place to start is by identifying what works, and to build from that. What motivates you? Take time to identify people or ideas that you can go back to when you need inspiration or encouragement.
Our investment in small business owners is part of the cradle to career approach of Grow Our Own and the work to make sure our kids and families have what they need to succeed. More than that, it’s an investment in people. Each person’s success translates into success for their families and their communities as we work toward a southwest Minnesota where all people thrive.
Elevate Community Business Academy provides hands-on training in business planning and management tailored to underserved entrepreneurs. Kandiyohi County & City of Willmar Economic Development Commission is offering the Elevate course at no cost to entrepreneurs in Kandiyohi County with funding from Southwest Initiative Foundation. The first class of Elevate graduates includes (pictured, from left): Stephanie Thompson, Abdiweli Yusuf, Abdilahi Omar, Abdiqani Mahamed and Hteh Rue.