For a year now the Jamestown Regional Entrepreneur Center has been fostering rural economic development in the nine-county region by providing a variety of services and ways to aid beginning entrepreneurs.
"Startup businesses can help grow a small town," said Katherine Roth, JREC executive director. "And we're here to help them do it. We need entrepreneurs for local liveability.They're critical in repopulating a community."
Helping to make the JREC a reality, Roth said, was receiving a U.S. Department of Agriculture's Rural Business Development Department $63,000 grant.
"We have declining population in the region and our grant application directly addressed this market need by providing a solution to repopulate through the use of entrepreneurship," Roth said. "The Rural Business Department provided funding for that portion of economic development and opened our door."
The Jamestown/Stutsman Development Corp. also contributed to the birth of JREC with an investment of $150,000 in the non-profit organization. The investment was spread over 36 months.
"I think they're doing a wonderful job," said Connie Ova, CEO of the JSDC. "It's very much needed in the community."
Roth said the center has provided services in workforce development events, customized training and various related programs for about 300 people. A few programs that are upcoming are the Local Makers Meetup - Selling Goods Locally and Online, Instagram Training and the JREC Women's Professional Workshop.
Roth also provides one-on-one consultation - providing help with business plans and identifying local resources. She has a business partner network with each partner, offering a different area of expertise to these beginning entrepreneurs. The network includes the Jamestown/Stutsman Development Corp., Small Business Administration, Small Business Development Center, SCORE, South Central Regional Council, the University of Jamestown and the Women's Business Center. Each partner in the network can offer invaluable expertise and experience in different areas.
"The relationship with these partners is a huge part of the success of the entrepreneur center," she said.
Roth said the network has already benefited JREC clients.
"Most folks are doing it on a limited scale and want to expand their operation, or they need assisting (with) their ideas or they want to kick start their business," Roth said. "These are the people who use the resources provided by the network."
In order to help those who are not available until after 5 p.m. in the nine-county area, Roth said she is willing go to them. The university provides a vehicle and pays for the gas.
Kim and Jim Potts recently purchased LaMoure Lockers.They couldn't get a loan at their bank without a business plan and were recommended to Roth.
"We had no idea what a business plan was, let alone how to do one," Kim Potts said. "Katherine not only was willing to help, she came to LaMoure once a week (after 5 p.m) to work with us developing one. We'd do research, email it to her and work on it the next week. By the time we were done we had a 24-page business plan and got our loan. Katherine is phenomenal. She's amazing."
The JREC website - jrecenter.com - is another avenue for those interested in becoming an entrepreneur or to learn more about the process..
"The website is a very helpful resource," Roth said. "It has links to more information."
To continue to support startup business development for economic growth in the region,Roth said the JREC needs community financial support.
"We rely on the generosity of individuals and businesses for support," she said. "We want to continue to be a business resource serving those in our nine-county community."