Nikki Nisley

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Moderated by MPR’s Kerri Miller on September 20th in St. Joseph, an evening of debate centered on local entrepreneurship experiences revealed a range of small business experiences.

Part of the Rural Voice series was created when Miller approached his longtime collaborator Theresa McFarland with the idea of ​​exploring what rural Minnesota needs to do to prepare its workforce for the 21st century. I was.

Three initiative foundations—Southern, Northern, and Central Minnesota chapters—jointly supported the series, each hosting its own Town Hall event. Other sponsors whose representatives were present at the St. Joseph’s debate included his Compeer Financial, a member-owned farm his credit cooperative system.

State Senator Arick Putnam and St. Joseph Mayor Rick Schultz have specifically advocated St. Joseph and the central Minnesota countryside as destinations for others to visit, live and do business.

(Due to redistricting, St. Joseph is now in the State Senate’s 14th District, represented by the Putnam District. He faces Republican challenger Tama Theis to retain his seat. )

City Hall was held at the Krewe restaurant in downtown St. Joseph. This is the result of the experience and creativity of Chefs Mateo McBee and Erin Lucas. Nicknamed “Crew’s Crew” on the restaurant’s website, they shared some of their experiences entering the rural entrepreneurial game. “When I shared our vision, I was very surprised at the immediate questioning and skepticism.

Mackbee explained that their vision is food-centric: starting in the garden, going to the table, and sharing the process with young people. He said the goal is to develop in children a love of the land, food and cooking.

Key reasons explaining the renaissance of rural entrepreneurship are the low cost of living, high quality of life, abundance of practical and financial support, including mentorship, and access to those supports. was easy. Serious challenges were also identified, particularly for women and people of color, access to funding, knowledge of important community her networking relationships, and small rural living in navigating family and neighbor relationships. rice field.

When Miller asked the audience about the biggest barriers people face when considering moving to a rural community and starting a business, Mark Koch, head of Compeer Financial, made it very clear: I answered. game,” he explained.

The “creative fundraising” story was shared by many of the experienced business owners in the room. Kevin Doyle, the owner of Forest Mushrooms, told the story of mortgaging the house in 1985 to start a business.

Mark Barilek, president of the Central Minnesota Initiative Foundation, explained how it is purposefully placed to partner with local entrepreneurs. He briefly discussed the foundation’s Gap Loan Program. We can offer “gap financing,” which is the difference between the amount a bank lends and the amount needed to get a small business up and running. In addition, it is available at comparable commercial interest rates.

IFCM Marketing and Communications Director Bob McClintick said: He said the Initiative Foundation also has the flexibility to implement programming tailored to address these needs.

As City Hall closed, Mayor Schultz gave the final pitch of the evening. “We believe in ourselves[at St. Joseph]we believe in ourselves, and we want you to come to our town.”

The Town Hall concluded with a reception featuring Chef Larsen’s main Lime Square from the Flour and Flower kitchen.

For more information about the Rural Voice project, visit

rural entrepreneurship
MPR’s Kerri Miller listens at the Rural Voice Town Hall on Rural Entrepreneurship on Sept. 20 at St. Joseph’s Krewe restaurant.
night out with neighbors in central minnesota
Mark Barilek, president of the Central Minnesota Initiative Foundation, enjoys a conversation at Rural Voice City Hall hosted by Kelly Miller on Sept. 20 at Crew Restaurant in St. Joseph.

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