Starting with a lawn care business at age 20, he later went into construction and then satellite television programming sales. Working as a small businessman taught Swedin the value of the private sector in job creation and also the barriers government can put in the way. He thinks the Senate could find value in his experience.
“I just wanted to bring that common sense — here’s what the real world is — as a small-business person,” he said.
Part of the real world of entrepreneurs is that failure can occur, something focused on by the Alliance for a Better Minnesota ad reporting on Swedin’s bankruptcy filing 15 years ago. Swedin said they didn’t tell the whole story.
“A partner took all of the money and equipment in the middle of the night, and it forced my wife and I into a bankruptcy in 1997,” said Swedin, who said the partner was never prosecuted for the alleged theft.
The early struggles taught him important lessons: “You have to be able to trust who you’re working with, and you have to do the math — each project has to work.”
“It’s painful to talk about because you have those failures,” he said. “But entrepreneurs have to fail forward.”
Swedin said he got back up, ultimately rising to the position of president of Pace Electronics in Rochester. He now operates his own consulting business.
If elected, he plans to work to reduce the state’s tax burden on small businesses and streamline regulations and permitting requirements. Minnesota doesn’t need to be a low-tax, low-service state, but it shouldn’t be anywhere near the bottom when it comes to tax climate, Swedin said.
“Somewhere in the middle would bring a new level of confidence in investing in good-paying local jobs,” he said.