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JSDC’s Miller to develop business incubator

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Holly Miller, the marketing and workforce developer for the Jamestown/Stutsman Development Corp., is in the initial planning stages for developing a business incubator for the city and is seeking feedback from current and potential stakeholders who could benefit from Miller’s business model.

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Business incubators are plans or programs intended to help nourish business growth through support, services and resources.

“Jamestown has a number of small businesses, and we have a lot of creative and innovative people who are looking to start small businesses as well,” Miller said. “Sometimes people just don’t know exactly where to start, so if we have a center where people can go to and ask these questions, and have somebody beside them and walking them through the process, then all the more successful they will be.”

Miller said she does not have any details on the business incubator because she is still seeking feedback from small business owners and hopeful entrepreneurs on what type of model would work best for them, along with needed services. She hopes to form a committee of community volunteers who would help establish her project.

“The model could vary greatly,” she said. “It could depend on, ‘do we offer marketing? Do we offer accounting? Do we offer technology services? Do we partner with people who are starting up to offer those services to help share the cost?’ There’s so many ways we could model this.”

Miller’s business incubator is a project she is doing through the North Dakota State University Extension Service’s Rural Leadership North Dakota program. Marie Hvidsten, who has been the program’s director since it began in 2003, said the program runs for two years at a time and had about 100 graduates in its first five classes in various positions throughout the state. Hvidsten said the program’s “mission is to prepare and develop leaders to strengthen North Dakota,” and seeks to accomplish four goals: create a network of alumni across the state, help participants increase their leadership skills and help them take their project —in Miller’s case, the business incubator — to fruition.

“Our fourth goal is kind of a big, lofty one, and it’s to improve the quality of life for them and their community,” Hvidsten said.

Participants in the course either apply themselves or are nominated. Miller was nominated by Becky Thatcher-Keller from the South Central Regional Council. Hvidsten said applicants and nominees are selected to represent a wide range of ages, regional locations and program staff tries to have an equal amount of men and women.

“We do have an application process and in that application we ask them why they want to be part of rural leadership, what their goals are around giving back to the community,” Hvidsten said. “Our expectation is that they would, number one, work on a project idea, and number two, take some leadership roles, be it in the community, on a committee, maybe it’s a statewide office, however they can provide some leadership for their community.”

People interested in volunteering for the business incubator committee or who wish to offer feedback can contact Miller at the JSDC at (701) 252-6861 or by email at holly@growingjamestown. com

Sun reporter David Luessen can be reached at 701-952-8455           or by email at dluessen@jamestownsun.com

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