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Heartland Candies - Lollipop Manufacturer

In 2011, Michelle Roeder and her sister, DeeAnn Bilben, wanted to purchase a lollipop factory.

"We have a strong Community Development Committee in Hankinson and they went out looking for businesses that were for sale that might fit in Hankinson and this was one of those businesses," said Roeder. "My dad heard about this over coffee and asked my sister and I if we would be interested in purchasing it!"

An SBA-guaranteed loan from Lincoln State Bank helped Roeder and Bilben purchase the lollipop factory and then move the operation from the Minneapolis, Minnesota area to their hometown of Hankinson, North Dakota, a community of about 900 people. For the past eight years, Heartland Candies' seven employees have been manufacturing both blank and custom imprinted pops as well as selling bulk candies that other businesses use for promotional giveaways.

Don't let their location and small size fool you! They produce and ship hundreds of thousands of customized lollipops each month to customers all over the United States as well as in Canada and the United Kingdom.

So far the business has grown solely through promotional products membership distribution channels. They do limited direct advertising to distributors or to customers.

"We have been thinking of expanding to a second shift, but wanted to make sure we were ready," said Roeder.

So in 2018, she enrolled in the SBA's Emerging Leaders initiative, a seven-month executive-level training series specifically designed to stimulate and support the expansion of small businesses. The program provides the opportunity for small business owners to work with experienced coaches and mentors, attend workshops, and develop connections with their peers, local business leaders, and the financial community.

"The Emerging Leaders program has given me the necessary tools to put together a realistic three-year growth plan and the steps needed to achieve those goals," said Roeder.

Company Name: 
Heartland Candies LLC
Hankinson, ND
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