Success Stories

hanging wood sign for Rockwood Lodge

In 2015, sisters Stephanie Lightner and Carol Seim were approached by their husbands, Carl Madsen and Mike Seim, to undertake the adventure of small business ownership and a move north.  Twin Cities residents, the four joined together and, with the help of an SBA loan facilitated by the Minnesota Business Finance Corporation, purchased Rockwood Lodge and Outfitters in Grand Marais, Minn.

Rockwood Lodge is a historic resort on the Gunflint Trail on the eastern half of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW). The four partners benefited from a SBA 504 loan to purchase the existing lodge and outfitter resort. Along with a lodge, cabins, bunkhouse, fishing, hiking, and canoeing, they also provide outfitting services for camping excursions with entry to the BWCAW.

The BWCAW is a unique area located in the northern third of the Superior National Forest in northeastern Minnesota. Over one million acres in size, it extends nearly 150 miles along the International... Read More

A business owner stands next to counter top samples mounted on a wall

If you drive along I-94 in Woodbury, Minn., you can’t miss the word ‘CABINETS’ in big, bold letters on the side of the road—a sight that easily catches the eye of any homeowner or contractor with new construction or renovation in mind. A short jaunt along the frontage road will lead you to CREATIONS Cabinetry, where entrepreneur Maelei Catt is making her lifelong dream of small business ownership a reality. She’s gone from dream to reality thanks to help from the Women’s Business Development Center at WomenVenture in Minneapolis, Minn. and a microloan funded in part by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA).

Hard working and fiercely independent, Maelei was destined to be an entrepreneur. “From the very beginning, I knew that I didn’t want to keep working for people. I don’t ever want to work that hard again, unless it’s for myself,” says Maelei. Though her initial plan was to open a restaurant, her talent and experience with selling and designing cabinetry, as well as... Read More

Lee Gregory, owner of Sir Lines-A-Lot

When Lee Gregory and his wife Meggin started Sir Lines-A-Lot in 2004 with a single pick-up truck and a used striping machine, they believed that if they provided excellent customer service and a quality product, the business would grow.  And it did, but slowly.  With stagnant or slow growth for three or four years, their banker recommended Lee participate in the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Emerging Leaders Program.

The Emerging Leaders Program focuses on small, poised-for-growth companies with potential for job creation.  The seven-month intensive, executive entrepreneurship education series includes approximately 100 hours of classroom time per participant and provides the opportunity for small business owners to work with experienced mentors, attend workshops and develop connections with their peers, city leaders and financial communities.

Nearly 70 percent of the graduates have achieved revenue growth and more than 80 percent created new jobs or retained... Read More

Photo of Andrew Peralta

Andrew Peralta, owner of the Thief River Falls and Roseau Dairy Queens, was chosen as Minnesota’s 2016 Young Entrepreneur of the Year.  Peralta’s drive and ambition, along with the help of his local Small Business Development Center, has resulted in him owning a $1.5 million business at age 26.

Peralta has been a business owner since age 13 when he and a friend started A&P Lawn Service to earn money after school and on weekends. Not much later, he began working at the Dairy Queen at age 15 and was always willing to do whatever it took to get the job done.  Former owner Marty Johnson says of Peralta, “I knew early on that Andrew was different than the rest of the young people I had employed.  He was always willing to learn and help out wherever he was needed.”

Peralta left the Dairy Queen a few different times to go to school and take advantage of different opportunities but he always made his way back.  In 2013 he had worked his way up to general manager. At that... Read More

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