The Brainerd Small Business Development Center ranks among the top regional agencies in the state, according to Mary Kruger, state SBDC director.
She toured several businesses that are SBDC success stories and attended a recognition luncheon for the center based at Central Lakes College.
Kruger also came to Brainerd to discuss strategic planning, trends, annual performance data, reporting issues and standards. She said the region served from the Business & Industry Center at CLC was exceptionally active in 1999. The 10-county regional report showed 492 clients served by the Brainerd office in 1999.
The local SBDC reported 5,275 counseling hours for last year as the highest of any out-state office. The office's 180 loan packages totaled $33,627,822 in 1999, tops in the state among regional centers, Kruger said.
"The growth of the lakes area is evident in the number of loan packages prepared and funded."
Pam Thomsen, regional director, joined Rebecca Best, dean of external studies at CLC, and Sally Ihne, college president, in reviewing the totals and discussing new ways to assist small businesses.
"Our mission is to improve the economic growth in Minnesota by preserving and creating jobs and economic growth opportunities," said Thomsen.
The consultant team works under Small Business Administration guidelines and emphasis is also on reducing the number of business failures.
SBDC provides free, one-to-one business management counseling to existing and prospective business owners at over 20 locations in the state. Centers also offer low-cost training on a variety of topics relating to business start-up and operations.
"Centers such as Brainerd's are an effective resource for small business owners wanting to strengthen operations and expand their businesses in this state," said Jay Novak, commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Trade and Economic Development (which oversees the SBDC).
One local example of the prudent loan packaging and assistance to expand is Manhattan Beach Lodge, Crosslake. The lodge was the site for the recent recognition luncheon. John and Mary Zesbaugh, owners, were clients of SBDC when they were looking for SBA funding to expand the lodge.
"We were pleased to work with the Zesbaughs to complete a loan package funded by their local lender and the SBA," said Thomsen. "Their facility is beautiful, thanks to hard work and dedication."
Thomsen directs the office in Brainerd that serves as the headquarters for activities in the following counties: Crow Wing, Cass, Wadena, Todd, Morrison, Mille Lacs, Kanabec, Isanti, Chisago, and Pine.
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