Empowering Entrepreneurs: The Enterprise Academy in Long Prairie

Friday, June 28, 2024

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The Enterprise Academy stands as a beacon of opportunity for aspiring entrepreneurs. Run by the Initiative Foundation, this program is the region's largest early-stage entrepreneur training initiative. It offers a transformative 12-week business course to help underserved individuals start and grow small businesses. This spring, the Academy celebrated the graduation of its latest cohort in May 2024, marking another milestone in its mission to foster economic growth and entrepreneurial spirit in Long Prairie and beyond. (List of Graduates here).

Comprehensive Entrepreneurial Training

At the core of the Enterprise Academy is a robust educational framework that equips participants with the essential tools and knowledge needed to succeed in the business world. Over 12 weeks, students attend weekly classes that cover fundamental business principles. These sessions are more than just lectures; they are interactive workshops where students actively engage in creating their business plans.

Under the guidance of the experienced instructor Marina Scott, the Long Prairie cohort participants learn about financial management, marketing strategies, and operational planning. The curriculum is designed to be practical and hands-on, ensuring students can apply what they learn directly to their business ideas. By the end of the course, students will not only have a completed business plan but also the confidence and skills to launch their ventures.

Personalized Business Support and Services

Enterprise Academy graduates receive more than just a certificate; they gain access to ongoing technical support and personalized business services. The Academy offers one-on-one consulting with expert advisors who assist with critical aspects of business operations, such as accounting, marketing, web development, and legal issues.

These consultants are available at a reduced fee for qualifying existing businesses, making the program accessible to a broader range of entrepreneurs. Whether refining a marketing strategy or navigating the complexities of business law, the Academy's support network helps ensure the continued success of its graduates.

Access to Small Business Lending

One significant barrier to starting a business is access to capital. The Enterprise Academy addresses this challenge by providing microloans access through the Initiative Foundation. Graduates with viable business plans can apply for direct loans of up to $50,000. These loans are tailored to meet the needs of underserved entrepreneurs who may find it difficult to secure funding through traditional financial institutions.

Additionally, the Academy offers culturally tailored lending options. It connects borrowers to larger loans through its traditional gap lending program, which requires collaboration with a lead lender such as a bank or credit union. This comprehensive lending support helps bridge the gap for many entrepreneurs, turning their business aspirations into reality.

Recent Workshops and Classes

The Enterprise Academy's success is further amplified by its ongoing workshops and classes. In May, the Academy hosted a "Business Basics: Business Plan Starter" workshop led by Jeff Wig, a seasoned entrepreneur and former vice president for entrepreneurship at the Initiative Foundation. Jeff's deep expertise and passion for helping underestimated entrepreneurs set the stage for aspiring business owners to craft their initial business plans.

In June, the focus shifted to the food industry with a workshop on "Starting a Food Truck or Restaurant" conducted by Char Roe. Char, a local teacher and owner of Fryer Roe's Food Truck, shared her extensive experience in the food service industry, providing valuable insights into the unique challenges and opportunities of operating a food business.

Looking Ahead: Join the Next Cohort

The Enterprise Academy is not just a program; it's a community dedicated to empowering the next generation of business leaders. If you want to join this transformative journey, consider applying for the next cohort. The Academy typically starts new cohorts in March and September. To express your interest and stay informed about upcoming opportunities, complete the Enterprise Academy Interest Form.

The Enterprise Academy continues to be a cornerstone of economic empowerment in Central Minnesota, providing aspiring entrepreneurs with the skills, support, and resources they need to thrive.

Make a Difference Today!

The Long Prairie EDC is here to support your journey, whether you're starting a new venture, growing an existing business, or looking to invest in our community. Together, we can create a thriving and dynamic economic landscape in Long Prairie.

For more information and to get involved, visit our website or contact us here.

Category: News

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