By Josh Moniz
---- — MANKATO — The Mankato-based Regional Center for Entrepreneurial Facilitation received praise and attention from Minnesota lawmakers Monday due to the non-profit organization's regional success.
RCEF, formerly the Riverbend Center for Entrepreneurial Facilitation, helps new entrepreneurs and businesses that are reviving by assisting them with identifying valuable resources and helping them develop their business plans into a project a bank will fund. The organization helps about 12 businesses each year.
Started in 1997, the organization is integrated from the state level down to the nine counties it serves and Bethany Lutheran College, which houses its main office on campus.
RCEF Executive Director Bryan Stading pointed out that RCEF was instrumental in the opening of Frozen Yogurt Creations in Mankato. He said their integration on the project included utilizing Bethany students to provide marketing and research work for the business. He said it provided the business a valuable service at a cheap rate and provided the students with real-world work experience.
State Reps. Kathy Brynaert, Tony Cornish, Bob Gunther, Clark Johnson and Tim Mahoney were among the lawmakers and commissioners that attended the event.
Brynaert said a big component of the event was to present the success of the organization to Mahoney, the chair of the Minnesota House Jobs and Economic Development committee. She said the regional lawmakers also wanted to learn how to better maintain the organization's state funding and learn ways to duplicate the organization's format in other Minnesota counties.
Gunther, a top Republican on the Minnesota House Jobs and Economic Development committee, said he has been impressed with RCEF's progress over the years.
“They are able to help a great deal of businesses. They can also do it at one-fifth of what it costs the state,” Gunther said.
He said he considers it a sign of the organization's success that so many other counties are clamoring to duplicate its operations.