EDA to help small business in new way

NEW ULM — The New Ulm Economic Development Authority authorized a $30,000 agreement with the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) to deliver up-to-date counseling and technical assistance for small businesses in New Ulm.

The SBDC program already provides service to New Ulm, but this agreement increases the amount of service.

Currently, SBDC’s regional office is run through Minnesota State University, Mankato. Entrepreneurs looking to consult with SBDC must travel to Mankato for assistance. This new deal would bring an SBDC consultant to New Ulm two full days a month and quarterly business training events. The SBDC will facilitate the Biz Link North business succession tool for up to ten businesses in the New Ulm area.

Assistant City Manager/Economic Development Coordinator Audra Shaneman said New Ulm and SBDC had an as-needed resource in the past. This previous arrangement had been at no cost to New Ulm. This new agreement was negotiated to bring their resources to New Ulm rather than sending entrepreneurs to Mankato.

Shaneman said in 2018, SBDC gave 600 hours of consulting services to New Ulm clients.

The board was hesitant to spend $30,000 for additional consulting since the city had already received 600 hours for free.

City Manager Chris Dalton said the concern was that a New Ulm entrepreneur traveling to Mankato for consulting services might choose to open a business there instead of New Ulm. He said this has happened before.

Bringing the consultant to New Ulm creates a captive audience. Also, the consultant would work out of City Hall, which provides a single stop for business permitting and building requirements.

Shaneman said this community needs entrepreneurs, and this is a method of making services as accessible as possible to keep them in New Ulm. She also said this is a new arrangement for SBDC as well as New Ulm.

Board member Daniel Braam said it would be exciting to be one of the first communities to utilize this type of service rather than the last.

“I rather be in front of the curve rather than behind it,” he said.

Board member Les Schultz said he supported the idea. He reminded the board the EDA wanted to get out of the house-building business and try something different.

Board member Susan Fix asked if New Ulm entrepreneurs could still visit SBDC in Mankato without a charge being incurred on them or New Ulm.

Dalton said yes, this was allowed in the agreement.

Shaneman said entrepreneurs from Sleepy Eye or Springfield could also come to New Ulm for the service.

Schultz made the motion to authorize the contract with SBDC for $30,000 and to include reports from SBDC on the usage of the consulting service.


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