Earmark creates resource for rural entrepreneurs


MPR Photo/Dan Gunderson

The University of Minnesota Crookston is using a $550,000 federal grant to create a Center for Rural Entrepreneurial Studies.

Scheduled to be up and running early next year, the center will aim to connect experts at UMC with entrepreneurs in northwest Minnesota.

The federal funding is one of a dozen earmarks requested by U.S. Rep. Collin Peterson according to a Washington D.C. watchdog group.

In a recent report, (PDF) the Small Business Administration says entrepreneurs and small businesses create 65 percent of all new jobs. There are some notable examples of entrepreneurs in northwest Minnesota. Thief River Falls based Digi-Key founder Ron Stordahl turned a pile of electronic parts into an international company that employs more than 2,000.

In Karlstad, MATTRACKS started with a youg boy’s idea sketched on a napkin and now sells it’s rubber tracks for vehicles to the Department of Defense and users around the world.

Professor Sue Brorson heads the business department at UMC. She says the Center for Rural Entrepreneurial Studies will “find innovative ways to aid entrepreneurs.” The university will focus on “educational leadership, applied research, and insightful consulting”.

UMCsays a website will be up soon and the CRES will start offering services to northwest Minnesota residents in January.

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