Elise Hernandez McGuire, owner of Ideal System Solutions, Inc., Pine River, has been named Minnesota Minority Small Business Person of the Year by the U.S. Small Business Administration. The award recognizes Hernandez for excellence in her field, demonstrated leadership, and community involvement.
Ideal System Solutions, Inc. is a woman-owned, Hispanic-owned company providing information technology solutions and services to the government, system integrators and commercial customers. Ideal is headquartered in Pine River with its main sales office and technical facility located in Maple Grove. Ideal also has offices located in New Mexico, California, South Carolina, and Virginia and a services organization that expands nationwide. Major customers include the Department of Energy, General Dynamics, and the Department of Defense including the Minnesota Air National Guard.
Ideal is a value-added reseller for leading-edge technology manufacturers including SUN, HP, IBM and CISCO, just to name a few. In addition to offering the full spectrum of IT solutions, Ideal provides financing options, product leasing and rental, trade and consignment to enable flexibility in purchasing. Ideal’s IT staffing organization offers versatile trained and certified technicians for long term and short term contract or projects. The company's huge portfolio of products means more options to meet customer requirements, and the ability to respond to requests for proposals with competitively priced, cutting-edge solutions. "Ideal strives to be your single source for developing an integrated IT solution within your budget requirements"
Hernandez knows the value of customer service. She says, "Our goal is to exceed customer expectations, provide the best value, and maintain the highest level of customer satisfaction."
Hernandez is a participant in SBA’s 8(a) Business Development program and is also certified with SBA as a HUBZone small business.
Jorge and Maria Euceda recently received a loan through the Southwest Initiative Foundation’s (SWIF) Micro-Enterprise Loan Program to start “Tortilleria Si Señor,” a local shop that makes fresh, authentic corn flour tortillas, chips, and tostadas from scratch. The Eucedas will sell other Mexican convenience goods and services as well.
Jorge Euceda and his family have lived in the Worthington area for over 13 years, and all will be helping in the business. Tortilleria Si Señor is located in downtown Worthington at 924 Fifth Avenue, and it is expected to open by the second week in August.
Funding from SWIF will be used to purchase equipment and fixtures for the business. Other funding partners in the project were First State Bank Southwest, of Worthington, and the Southwest Regional Development Commission, located in Slayton, Minn. The Eucedas also received business planning assistance from the Southwest Region Small Business Development Center (SBDC) in Marshall for the start up of their business.
“We are excited to be able to help Jorge and Maria on this project,” said Berny Berger, SWIF Micro-Enterprise program officer. “Tortilla Si Señor will be the first store to offer fresh tortillas and chips in the Worthington Area. The Foundation is pleased to be able to assist with the creation of this business.”
SWIF’s Micro-Enterprise Loan Program offers loans of up to $35,000 for starting or expanding for-profit small businesses located within the 18 counties of southwest Minnesota that have a need for additional sources of funds. In addition, technical assistance is available from SWIF as needed for the length of the loan. The program receives funding assistance from the U.S. Small Business Administration, as well as from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Otto Bremer Foundation.
Inventor Makes a Splash
Minneapolis graphic designer and life-long musician Sid Tincher found herself in a familiar predicament in 2001. While playing her guitar, she reached for a drink. She recalls, “What should have been a simple task turned into a chaotic domino effect – my headstock hit my microphone stand, knocking it into my music stand – they both fell over sending equipment and paper tumbling down onto the very drink I was trying to retrieve.”
Sid started looking for a safe home for her future beverages. Not finding a holder to her liking, she went down to her basement and started tinkering. Sid came up with a slick, fun design. “Musicians began clamoring for one of their own when they saw my SwirlyGig on stage. I made a few more in my basement, but realized quickly that I had a viable and needed product.”
Now, SwirlyGig is the premier cup and beverage holder for musicians and stage artists. “I think that what people responded to the most was the fun, playful simplicity of the design. There are no clamps or screws – it functions simply and swiftly with its own friction and gravity. It’s lightweight, sleek, and the swirly shape just looks cool!”
SwirlyGigs offer a safe, convenient, stylish and lightweight beverage holder that attaches easily to microphone stands. SwirlyGig Industries offers the Original SwirlyGig, SwirlyGig II for larger microphone stand and tubing, and SwirlySchtick drumstick holders.
SwirlyGigs are beginning to make an entry into other markets as well with sales in the medical industry already mounting. Because SwirlyGigs work on any standard tubing, the possibilities for new markets are many.
Early on, Sid sought help in building her business by completing the Neighborhood Development Center’s (NDC) Entrepreneur Program – subsequently earning both the Seward Neighborhood Entrepreneur Award and the Paul and Sheila Wellstone Innovative Product Award. She learned of the SBA and all its resources through the NDC, and was paired with SCORE counselors. SCORE provided valuable advice, boosted her confidence, and helped her make valuable connections.
As a resource partner with the SBA, SCORE provides information vital to small business success. This includes counseling on financing options, business planning, marketing strategies, product development and more. Individual members and counseling teams with diverse business knowledge and experience provide one-on-one, confidential counseling at no cost to the business owner. Currently, Sid is receiving one-on-one assistance from the Minnesota Trade Office to export SwirlyGigs.