The Free Press, Mankato, MN


November 30, 2013

Groups deserve recognition for helping business

Thumbs up to the Small Business Development Center at Minnesota State University and the Regional Center for Entrepreneurial Facilitation for being recognized by state lawmakers for the work the groups do with small businesses and entrepreneurs.

Last week the groups hosted area legislators, including state Reps. Kathy Brynaert, Tony Cornish, Bob Gunther, Clark Johnson and Tim Mahoney, chair of the Minnesota House Jobs and Economic Development Committee.

The collaboration began in 2011 with the award of a state appropriation for entrepreneurial assistance, which was championed by Rep. Bob Gunther. Prior to that, the two entities operated independently.

In the 12-month period ending June 30, the two entities served 550 clients, provided 5,526 hours of customized business consulting, helped start 36 new businesses, and helped raise $17,450,347 in capital.

The SBDC also earned national recognition from the U.S. Small Business Administration earlier this year when it received the Center of Excellence and Innovation Award for SBA’s seven-state Upper Midwest region.

Students are winners under this collaboration as well. Both SBDC and RCEF, which is located on the Bethany Lutheran College campus, utilize students to provide marketing and research work for clients, while giving them real-world experience in entrepreneurial processes and business operations.

Schools step up for Toys for Tots

Thumbs up to the efforts of St. Clair, Janesville-Waldorf-Pemberton and Lake Crystal Wellcome Memorial school districts for their recent friendly competition to collect the most toys or cash for the Toys for Tots program.

The schools are challenging each other to raise the most money or gather the most toys, with the losing school having to wear the team colors of the winning school.

St. Clair Student Council and the National Honor Society organized an effort last year and collected some 800 toys for the group. This year, as a way to ante up the effort, St. Clair challenged other schools in the Valley Conference to a toy collecting competition and two — Janesville and Lake Crystal — took on the challenge.

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