Rural Entrepreneurial Ventures seeks research, input and goals for the future

By : 
Jordan Gerard

An initiative introduced in November 2017 aims to help aspiring, established and long time entrepreneurs in Spring Grove.

It’s called the Rural Entrepreneurial Ventures (REV) program, hosted by the Southern Minnesota Initiative Fund (SMIF). CEDA Community and Business Development Specialist Courtney Bergey heads up Spring Grove’s team, along with CEDA colleague Bryce Lange and local volunteers.

“We’ve conducted a survey of entrepreneurs in the region to learn about their start up and that process,” Bergey said. “We’ve also learned where they are now and what the community can do to support businesses.”

Businesses who received surveys should complete those and return them to city hall. Businesses who did not receive a survey and would like to complete one should contact Bergey at courtney.bergey@cedausa.com. The outreach team has received about 10 completed surveys.

So far the trends show businesses want more assistance and resources, specifically for financial management, employment recruitment and retainment and how to plan for the future.

The surveys are part of a larger community engagement strategy to help explore what Spring Grove needs to increase and maintain an entrepreneurial environment.

“We need to figure out where the holes are and use the time to fill the holes in,” Bergey added. “There’s so many directions we can go with it.”

Those directions can shape Spring Grove’s REV program any way it needs to be. For example, specific needs can be targeted, such as more networking and free trainings to businesses that aren’t far away.

Another outcome of the program is businesses supporting and learning from each other.

“The whole philosophy is a community process where we investigate what we know and what we don’t know,” she said. “We want to enhance the entrepreneurial cultural of the community and celebrate the businesses that have already contributed to the community.”

REV will host an entrepreneurial happy hour on Tuesday, July 10, from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. at Norski’s Saloon. It’s an opportunity for just beginning, aspiring or established entrepreneurs and business owners to network.

“It’s a low-key, welcoming event,” Bergey said. “We encourage anyone who’s thought of starting a business one day to join us.”

The greatest strength of the event is the people that will attend, she added. 

“Get people together and put our heads together, brainstorm and share with us what entrepreneurs are struggling with, turn around make changes to provide them with what they need,” Bergey said.

REV also hopes to leverage funding for the business community as well.