Economic Lookout: ‘One-man’ businesses shortchanged?

MinnEcon note: Brent Olson is a Big Stone County commissioner who keeps a close eye on the western Minnesota economy. In August, he shared some thought provoking short videos on how his friends and neighbors are doing in the recession.

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Brent Olson | Otrey Township, Big Stone County

In this latest post, he looks at whether the hundreds of one-person businesses in Big Stone County are being shut out of grants and other aid because they’re not creating jobs.

The economy depends on the 400 or so people who run the one-person car repair shop, store, salon and similar businesses, he says. Yet they aren’t viewed as job creators and that puts them at a disadvantage.

“If you look at any sort of government aid program, stimulus money or if you’re applying for a grant, you’ll see a line that says how many job will this create,” says Olson. “If you put ‘zero,’ you’re out of luck.

“You can’t get any help at all. You’re not even on the radar and that’s a real issue…. the government is telling us, ‘Yeah, you don’t matter’… people who contribute $17 million to the economy in Big Stone County, they’re cut off from just the little bit of extra assistance that could really make a profound difference.”

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Olson is a western Minnesota writer and Big Stone County commissioner

Bonus Info: Here’s a chart from the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development showing 13 month unemployment in Big Stone County, the region around it, and Minnesota (click on the chart for a larger view).




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  • Greg

    I often have to remind friends of the definition of “small business” when used by politicians. I run a very small business from my home in Minneapolis. I find the second biggest obstacle to getting any grant or low interest financing is the paperwork itself. I cannot afford to hire a lawyer or other consultant to fill out the applications and then provide the reporting necessary to meet the obligations of most government funded programs or RFPs. I don’t expect Federal or State programs to address my small business needs but it would be nice if the city or maybe the county could provide more accessible options.