The South Dakota Center for Enterprise Opportunity (SD CEO), is located on the campus of Black Hills State University. In 2009, the University, through a five-year grant awarded by the SBA Office of Women Business Ownership, established the SD CEO. The mission is to provide comprehensive training and business assistance, support and counseling for aspiring and established entrepreneurs on a statewide basis. Specific target audiences include Women, Women Veterans, Native Americans, Youth Entrepreneurs and the Socially and Economically Disadvantaged.
Since 2009, SD CEO has exceeded all of the goals set forth in the SBA Work Plans. Each, year the number of participants continued to expand from 535 attendees and clients in the first grant period to over 1200 in the third year grant period. SD CEO created a monthly Women In Networking (W.I.N.) organization, created and hosts the annual Celebrating Women in Business Luncheon and created and hosts SD CEO’s signature event, the South Dakota’s Women’s Business Conference. Helen Nessan-Merriman has served as the SD CEO Director since November 2009 and was named Honorary Commander for the 28th Contracting Squadron at Ellsworth Air Force Base in August of 2012.
John "brofounded" 9 Clouds with his brother Scott in 2009 when Scott came home from Norway and John was back for the weekend from Minneapolis. It was when they decided to have pizza and noticed their mother reaching for the phone book to find a number. It was at that point the “bros” decided to launch their business and use this opportunity to move back to their home state of South Dakota. Together they connect businesses with customers by using the Internet and adding personality to a brand. 9 Clouds excels at social media marketing, market research, blog development & strategy, search engine optimization and paid search campaign management. They are also co-founders of Lemon.ly, a visual marketing firm that is on a mission to make the world an easier place to understand. That company specializes in infographics and data viz, and works with clients in South Dakota such as Purity Seeds in Raymond and the Kuchen Man in Rapid City and around the country including Toyota, Nike, Marriott, PepsiCo and the United Nations.
9 Clouds worked directly with 77 SBDC clients providing Social Media Consulting. Each client was given four one-hour sessions with one-on-one coaching online, four hours of strategy and analytics from 9 Clouds, a social media best practices handbook, unlimited email support and a one month membership to their online training site for continual support. Client response was very favorable with positive results.
When Melissa Johnson, owner and operator of Oh My Cupcakes! in Sioux Falls, began telling people her dream of owning a cupcake shop, people would ask, “cupcakes? Just cupcakes?” Yes, just cupcakes. After spending hours researching cupcake shops in other states and other cities, Melissa did one more thing to find out if her dream could become a reality. She attended the Sioux Falls SCORE Chapter’s “How to Really Start Your Own Business” workshop where she learned how to put together a business plan, what licenses and permits were needed and how to understand the sometimes confusing tax laws. The workshop was also a great start in helping her meet and form a relationship with a business banker who understood and cared about her needs as a new business owner. Johnson admits the workshop was very useful, but working one-on-one with a SCORE mentor, Truman Phelan, was a great next step.
Since that workshop and meeting with a SCORE counselor, Melisssa opened her store on April 1, 2010, and demand for her cupcakes quickly grew. Oh My Cupcakes! is open six days a week and offers over 30 flavors baked fresh daily. The shop closes at 2:00 p.m. each day, but doesn’t mean you can’t still enjoy a cupcake. Knowing that not everyone can get to her shop, Melissa worked hard to establish outlets and taking it even a step further, she launched an e-commerce website in January of 2011 so people across the nation can order their favorite cupcake flavor and have it sent directly to their doorstep.