EDA meeting focuses on micro grants, business training

By: 
Chad Smith

The Rushford Economic Development Authority (EDA) met last Wednesday, May 8, in the Rushford City Hall. Micro-Grants and business succession planning were the major topics on an otherwise light agenda. Rushford City Administrator Tony Chladek is pleased to see that Rushford businesses are starting to put the EDA’s Micro-Grant program to good use.

Micro Grants

“We approved three more of the music grants last week,” he said. “Two of them were for Il Luigi’s for Mother’s Day and Father’s Day events. The other is for Shawnee’s, who are getting set to host a music show just prior to this year’s Root River Jams Concert on August 10.

“We’d talked to her (Shawn) about hosting a show just ahead of The Jimmy’s concert,” Chladek added. “It took some effort to get that lined up and part of her grant request is to help her put it together. The first show that day will be right outside her building from 3-6 pm and the Jimmy’s are back for a second-straight year and will play from 7-10 that night.”

The Jimmy’s played the inaugural Root River Jams show last year and Chladek said the turnout was strong for a great show. The goal going into year two of Root River Jams was to expand the day to two shows and it looks like that’s on track to happen. “We want folks to come into town and hear a couple of different varieties of music, grab something to eat, and make a day of it,” Chladek added.

Chladek said he’s very happy that Rushford businesses are starting to take advantage of the grant program to help them host special events designed to bring more traffic into their place of business.

“Il Luigi’s is one business that’s figuring out how to use those available dollars effectively,” Chladek said. “If you time things right, especially on certain days of the year, people want to go listen to music and have a good meal. You fill up a couple of tables with families out for Mother’s Day and that grant money you spent will come back pretty quickly.”

The grant program is now a partnership between the Rushford Community Foundation and the EDA. The organizations will split the cost of an event designed to help promote a local business, with the cost not to exceed $500. The business comes up with half the money and the two organizations then split the other 50 percent. Businesses interested in finding out more about how the program works can contact Tony Chladek at Rushford City Hall.

SCORE Training feedback positive

“This was something we were looking at that fit into our economic development plan,” Chladek said. “We wanted to figure out ways to bring in experts to talk to our local businesses about a variety of topics they’d find helpful. Rushford-Peterson Valley Chamber Executive Coordinator Jen Hengel thought there might be enough businesses in town that succession planning might be a good topic for the owners to learn more about. SCORE is a business group that provides that kind of educational information for free.”

The SCORE website describes itself as an organization whose mission is “to foster vibrant small business communities through mentoring and education.” They’re the nation’s largest network of volunteer, expert business mentors who are dedicated to helping get small businesses off the ground, grow, and achieve their goals. Stephen Troutman is a SCORE Trainer who led a business training session in Rushford on April 24, covering Business Exiting/Transitioning.

“We had a really nice turnout for the first meeting on April 24,” Chladek said. “We touched on a lot of the business planning/exiting topics from a ’30,000-foot view.’ I was really pleased with the quality of the training. The feedback from people in attendance was very positive, so we’re going to host a couple more training sessions for businesses this year.”

Troutman passed out surveys after the presentation ended and was pleased with the responses. “The feedback from the April 24 Exiting/Transitioning Class included a great deal of interest in business planning topics,” Troutman said. “Two topic areas really stood out. They want more on Exiting/Transitioning out of a business or farm, including succession, retirement, and estate planning.

“They’re also interested in Business Planning,” he said. “Some of the things they’d like to learn more about under that umbrella include marketing, accounting, taxes, finances, and how to get a business started.”

The next training sessions are coming up on May 15 and June 19. The session in May will cover Business Planning and the June training session will cover more information on Exiting/Transitioning a business.

Schedule

The next Rushford EDA meeting is set for Wednesday, June 2, starting at 5:30 p.m. at Rushford City Hall.