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Brenda Nolby, owner of Jam Hops Gymnastic Factory, Inc., is the 2018 Minnesota Small Business Person of the Year

Release Date: 
Wednesday, April 4, 2018
Release Number: 
Sarah Swenty, 612-370-2316

MINNEAPOLIS – From handsprings to business owner, Brenda Nolby’s passion for self-growth is matched by her drive to help others succeed. This is the reason the owner of Ham Lake-based Jam Hops Gymnastics Factory, Inc., was chosen as the 2018 Minnesota SBA Small Business Person of the Year.

The Small Business Person of the Year is selected based on growth in sales or unit volume, increase in the number of employees, financial strength, innovativeness of product or service and evidence of contributions to community-oriented projects. Along with this, Nolby’s efforts to create a thriving business and improve lives in her community outshone other applicants. She was nominated by the Ham Lake Area Chamber of Commerce.

“Small businesses drive our economy and at the SBA we do everything we can to help their owners thrive,” said Nancy J. Libersky, district director of the SBA’s Minnesota District Office.  “In following our mission, the SBA has helped Brenda grow her business, which in turn allowed her to have a greater positive impact in her community. We are proud to honor her as this year’s Minnesota Small Business Person of the Year.” 

Jam Hops offers many opportunities including youth classes and competitive programs for gymnastics and dance, cheer-leading and ninja classes, an academic preschool and a theater program.

"At Jam Hops we work to transform the lives of children to strengthen their future and improve our community,” said owner Brenda Nolby. “We're very much NOT a ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ organization. We don’t believe in settling on good enough, which has helped us stay flexible to the changing needs of our customers. This mentality has been the main contributor to our growth and development of Jam Hops many programs."

Formed in 1997 when two gymnastics programs merged, Jam Hops grew rapidly, adding a second location in 2005 and a third in 2014 and currently employs 87. Nolby started working for the company in the early 1990's and became the sole owner in 2013. The company has benefited from SBA financing guarantees, which have helped it purchase buildings and equipment as the business grew.

The company nearly went bankrupt in 2007-08 when enrollment dropped by over half with the recession. By 2009 Nolby had to stop paying herself a regular salary and her business partner went back to teaching school full-time.

Jam Hops paid its bills on time through it all, and the gratitude she felt toward her community, which had supported her in ways big and small, inspired Nolby to start "Jam Hops Gives Back" with donations and services to local organizations. Since starting the campaign in 2013, it has donated almost $64,000 and hundreds of birthday parties to local organizations to help in their fundraising efforts, and thousands of pounds of food and clothing to the local food shelf.

To learn more about her, please visit the Minnesota SBA Success Story page at

Nolby has been invited to Washington, D.C., to join winners from all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands during National Small Business Week ceremonies to receive her individual award and be there for the naming of the 2018 National Small Business Person of the Year, for which she is eligible.

The SBA Minnesota District Office, along with the SCORE Association and the Minnesota State Small Business Development Center, will honor all the 2018 winners at the Minnesota Small Business Week Awards Luncheon on May 11, 2018, at the Doubletree by Hilton Park Place in Minneapolis, Minn.

Registration is open for the event until May 8 at

For more information on Small Business Week, which is April 29 through May 5 this year, please visit


About the U.S. Small Business Administration

The U.S. Small Business Administration makes the American dream of business ownership a reality. As the only go-to resource and voice for small businesses backed by the strength of the federal government, the SBA empowers entrepreneurs and small business owners with the resources and support they need to start and grow their businesses. It delivers services to people through an extensive network of SBA field offices and partnerships with public and private organizations. To learn more, visit


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