Entrepreneurial Insights from the Mayor’s Summit 2017

Duluth Mayor Emily Larson held the city’s first annual Business Resources Summit on May 2 at Clyde Iron Works. Emphasizing the value of local entrepreneurs, the event featured a panel of successful small business owners and identified funding options available regionally.

Speakers included Tom Hansen, founder and owner of Duluth Grill and OMC Smokehouse. He was joined by Angela Stocke, the former owner of Angela’s Bella Flora, and Lynnette Stein, founder and owner of Lynnette’s Portrait Design.

All three panelists spoke about the challenges they faced in the process of establishing their local businesses. Discussion ranged from day to day logistical questions, to confronting political hurdles such as healthcare, to striking a healthy life work balance.

The summit also brought together experts on small business development from around the city, including Elaine Hansen, Director of the University of Minnesota Duluth’s Center for Economic Development (UMD CED). Notably, two of the three panelists mentioned consulting UMD CED at some point in the process of creating and operating their small businesses.

Hansen emphasized in a set of closing remarks that, through UMD CED, local business owners can connect with many local resources and business development partners. Although UMD CED does not offer grants to help start a business, they can provide assistance with financing.

Shawn Wellnitz, CEO of Duluth’s Entrepreneur Fund, also contributed closing remarks. He noted that the Entrepreneur Fund offers loans of up to $500,000 for existing businesses and $50,000 for new start ups.

Mayor Larson made note of a third funding option. With a focus on West Duluth and the Lincoln Park and Spirit Mountain neighborhoods, the city’s new Advance West program helps entrepreneurs start a business in a blighted building within zip codes 55806 and 55807. Specifically, Advance West offers loans of up to $50,000, up to one half of which can be forgiven if the business makes two full time hires within two years.

For more information on the Mayor’s Business Resources Summit and local options for entrepreneurs, contact us!

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