Entrepreneurs in Stutsman County and the surrounding region will have access to a Small Business Development Center, although not on the regular basis the Jamestown/Stutsman Development Corp. had hoped for.
The board of the JSDC had hoped to have a Small Business Development Center in Jamestown with regular days and hours.
"This is now a Fargo position with Jamestown and Wahpeton on call," Kelly Rachel, president of the JSDC, told the board of directors Monday. "Not what we had wanted at all."
The Small Business Development Center provides technical assistance and counseling to people starting a business. South Central Dakota Regional Council operated the Small Business Development Center for the region until November 2017 when it discontinued its operation, citing cost concerns. The JSDC has explored options for operating a Business Development Center in Jamestown since.
Under the new plan, the Business Development Center will be operated by the North Dakota State University Research and Technology Park. The Research and Technology Park is in the process of hiring staff for its Business Development Center. The new position is separate from the existing Fargo Small Business Development Center, although the two agencies will coordinate services.
Jamestown Mayor Dwaine Heinrich said he had been negotiating to share a development center with Fargo and Wahpeton on behalf of the JSDC. The plan under discussion called for the Business Development Center employee to work one or two days per week at each location on a set schedule. The JSDC would have covered 40% of the cost of the program or about $15,000 per year.
Rachel said the advantage to a set schedule is JSDC officials could direct people needing assistance from the Business Development Center to come in on a certain day making scheduling easier.
"Without any input from us at all, the position is now in Fargo and people here could call in," Heinrich said. "... Very unfair, a disgrace."
People in the Jamestown and Wahpeton areas will be able to consult with the Business Development Center through video conference calls, over the phone or in person if staff at the remote offices can arrange multiple meetings that would make it efficient for the person from Fargo to travel.
The new program does not include any cost to the JSDC.
Connie Ova, CEO of the JSDC, said previously that Jamestown and Wahpeton each had a full-time position for the Small Business Development Center.
"Now there is only one full-time position and it is in Fargo," she said.
The JSDC Board of Directors renewed a partnership with Train ND at a cost of $45,000 per year. Train ND provides workforce training programs to businesses and through the Jamestown Area Chamber of Commerce. It has provided training for more than 400 people in the past year.