Blue Earth eyes economic growth

BLUE EARTH — Blue Earth is taking an active approach in making entrepreneurship and economic growth a priority through participation in a new program.

The Rural Entrepreneurial Venture is offered through the Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation and is focused on finding new entrepreneurs, as well as building up communities through economic growth. The three-year program works to bring communities three key results: increasing diversity of the business industry, gaining resilience through the creation of support teams and creating processes to support entrepreneurial activity.

The REV program is in partnership with the Center for Rural Entrepreneurship, a national nonprofit focused on helping community leaders build the community through supporting business, social and civic entrepreneurs.

Five communities across southern Minnesota with populations of 5,000 or less were chosen to be a part of the REV program. Along with Blue Earth, Lake City; Lanesboro and Spring Valley; Le Sueur; and Spring Grove were chosen.

Pam Bishop, SMIF’s vice president of economic development, said Blue Earth was chosen because of its history with SMIF, as well as the community’s potential and willingness to grow economically.

“They were ready,” she said. “They have demonstrated leadership in terms of resources that are available and that they thought through how they would bring more community members to the program.”

Each community will have a “Champion Team” comprised of five to seven representatives. Cindy Lyon, director of the Blue Earth Chamber of Commerce, said this team will include a City Council member, as well as representatives from Faribault County Development Corporation and the Blue Earth Economic Development Authority. Lyon said they looking for other representatives to bring in different sets of knowledge.

Lyon said new entrepreneurs often do not know all the aspects that go into starting a new businesses, and she has found that their No. 1 struggle is effectively advertising.

Lyon said the team will work to advise new entrepreneurs on financing, how to find a space for their business and developing a business plan. They also will work to connect them with different organizations based on their needs.

Lyon said the goal for the three years in the REV program is for people to utilize the program and to encourage new entrepreneurs to create businesses in the community.

“If we’re going to take time to do this, we want it to work,” she said. “And there’s no reason why it shouldn’t.”­