Making Dreams Come True
Stacey Stratton, executive recruiter and owner of True Talent Group, a sales recruitment company based out of Apple Valley, recently turned a lifelong dream and guidance from SCORE into a thriving enterprise with limitless opportunities.
After working in the industry for six years, Stratton had a strong desire to break out and start her own company. An internet search for “small business help” put Stratton in touch with a counselor from her local SCORE office. “Our team provided resources that helped Stacey overcome her concerns regarding how to start a company, develop a solid business plan and put the basics in place to kick-off her recruiting business.,” says SCORE counselor Greg Boettner.
Stratton attended several seminars offered by her local SCORE office, and with help from the Business Planning Center, diligently chipped away at a working business plan. The results are undisputed: sales at True Talent Group in 2008 were double Stratton’s expectations. Sales for 2009 have already exceeded last year’s, and Stratton says she expects to triple her business by the end of the year.
Recently, Stratton has expanded the business to include placement of marketing and creative talent. She has also added contract and temp-to-hire placements. Stratton is currently working to obtain the distinction of being certified a Women’s Business Enterprise. Stratton says, “We have insights about the Twin Cities market and often daily updates about business happenings because we’re involved and networked. This local knowledge translates well when a locally-headquartered corporation wants to build their marketing or sales team nationally or a professional is relocating to the Twin Cities. We understand this market and the businesses that operate nationally and internationally here.”
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.
Edgardo Rodriguez, Business Consultant at the Metropolitan Economic Development Association (MEDA), has been named the Minnesota Minority Small Business Champion of the Year by the U.S. Small Business Administration.
The Minority Small Business Champion award is presented annually in each state to individuals who assist small businesses through outstanding advocacy efforts on behalf of minority-owned small businesses. Yvonne Cheung Ho, President and CEO of MEDA, nominated Rodriguez for this award.
After decades of working in the corporate sector in senior positions, Rodriguez joined MEDA in 2002 as a consultant and has utilized his wealth of knowledge and resources to benefit the small business community. His specialties include coaching, analyzing complex and challenging business opportunities for growth, mergers and acquisitions, negotiations, document review, certifications and day-to-day business management issues.
George Jacobson, director of MEDA’s Business Consulting Services and Loan Program, said, “Edgardo possesses the talent and capability to connect to clients in a way that is very rare. He intuitively knows what to do and how to approach even the most daunting business problems. He is a true advocate for small and minority business – anyone who knows him will tell you that.”
Through Rodriguez’s personal efforts, over 150 small business owners were served, many of whom were connected to opportunities that resulted in job creation. Over the past year, he has coordinated MEDA’s premier consulting effort, the Pacesetter program, to help accelerate the growth and build capacity of a select group of high potential clients. He has also been instrumental in developing and implementing the MEDA Leadership Program for advanced business owners with the intent of fostering business and civic leaders of color.
Bilingual in English and Spanish, Rodriguez is involved in the community through participation on the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Advisory Board and a Council member and treasurer of the Chicano Latino Affairs Council, where he was just reappointed to his second 4-year term. He trains and coaches Latinos aspiring to become entrepreneurs on preparing a Business Plan and opening a Small Business in cooperation with the Latino Economic Development Center. He is also a 2007 Fellow with the Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota’s Hendrickson Institute for Ethical Leadership as well as a professor in international economics at the same university. He is a valued advisor, trainer and educator to government, government agencies, neighborhood development associations and the community-at-large.
Thomas H. Koopmeiners, Small Business Program Manager, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, has been named the Minnesota Veteran Small Business Champion of the Year for the U.S. Small Business Administration.
The Veterans Small Business Champion Award is presented annually in each state to individuals who have fulfilled a commitment to advancing small business opportunities for Veterans of the U.S. armed forces. Sherri Komrosky, Program Director of the Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC), nominated Tom for this award.
Koopmeiners has been the Saint Paul District’s small business program manager since 2002 and a Corps’ employee since 1998, when he started as a contracting officer. As the small business program manager, Koopmeiners assists small businesses in obtaining government contracts.
Under Koopmeiners management, the district exceeded its small business goals for two years in a row, as well as ranked third in the nation, Corps-wide for overall success. Additionally, Koopmeiners provides guidance and formal instruction to other small business program mangers throughout the Corps.
“Tom demonstrated personal commitment and dedication by implementing strategic business initiatives throughout the region and providing the visibility, outreach, training and counseling necessary for the small business program to succeed,” said the Saint Paul District Commander, Col. Jon Christensen.