Dakota Rising Honors Rural Entrepreneurs & Communities
This year’s Dakota Rising Entrepreneur Conference celebrated eight new entrepreneurs entering the Dakota Rising program, eight successful business owners from the 2012 class of Dakota Rising Fellows who were graduated from the program, a new inductee into the Dakota Rising Hall of Fame and a Community Site that was recognized for its ongoing innovation. Dakota Rising was launched in 2008 by Dakota Resources and has since mentored over 50 rural entrepreneurs who have accelerated their business growth and have taken advantage of the insight, ideas and experience of other Fellows and seasoned business owners from across the region.
The 2015 Dakota Rising Conference was held October 1st – 3rd at the Sioux Falls Convention Center. The Dakota Rising Community and its guests welcomed this year’s newly-selected Entrepreneur Fellows: Barb Pechous, Taboma Publishing, and Cheryl Swatek, The Cake Lady, both from Southern Charles Mix Dakota Rising; Lawrence County’s Fellows for 2015, Les Bellet, Twin City Hardware, and Dr. Bob McIntosh, HealthSource; John Pfeifer, VoWac Publishing, representing Faulkton Area Economic Development Initiative, serving Faulk County; David Malsam, CompQuest Technology, and Cam Schock, Climate Control, from Aberdeen; and Chad Gollnick, Iron Outfitter, from Piedmont, SD.
The 2012 Dakota Rising Entrepreneur Fellows class honored as graduates of the program were Chris Brill, RABCO Products, Lorri Riley, J1 Insoles, representing the Lawrence County Dakota Rising Community Site; Emily Heintzman, Double Duty Storage, and Troy McQuillen, Elmwood Studios and McQuillen Creative, both of Aberdeen; Cindy Kopecky, The Potting Shed, and Kelly Melius, Common Sense Manufacturing, both representing Faulkton Area Economic Initiative; Margaret Lindskov, The Bunkhouse Inn of Isabel; and Southern Hills on the Rise Fellow, Jeff Prior, Dakota Greens of Custer.
The third inductee of the Dakota Rising Hall of Fame, chosen for his willingness to unselfishly give of his time, talent and expertise to the Dakota Rising community, was Bryan Walker, 2008-2013 Site Coordinator and longtime enthusiast of Lawrence County Dakota Rising.
Recognized as the 2015 Entrepreneur Site of the Year was Southern Charles Mix Dakota Rising, honored for its innovation in entrepreneur development. Southern Charles Mix County along with Faulkton, Southern Hills (Fall River and Custer Counties) and Lawrence County have developed successful entrepreneur development systems and business retention and expansion strategies for their communities and have recruited numerous entrepreneur Fellows since joining the program.
The 2014-2014 Dakota Rising Entrepreneur Fellows have reported aggregate impacts that include a 61% increase in assets and revenue increases of 118%, along with a collective increase in net profits of $495,676. Fellows generated a 33% increase in the number of full-time employees and a 21% increase in part-time jobs.
Dakota Rising Community Sites have proven to be effective local economic development engines by supporting their entrepreneurs and in turn experiencing the long-term impacts the business owners are generating. These Community Sites have expanded their service territories, bringing the Fellowship opportunity to additional South Dakota communities and entrepreneurs. These Community Sites have energized their regions by employing effective systems to support local businesses to meet their growth and expansion goals.
“As a Dakota Rising Fellow, I have taken my business in directions I wouldn’t have gone otherwise. It forced me outside my safety zone and opened my eyes to new things. I receive a lot of support through Dakota Rising Fellows from around the state as well as in my own community of Faulkton.” said Kelly Melius, a 2012 Dakota Rising Graduate and owner of Common Sense Manufacturing in Faulkton, SD. “Dakota Rising isn’t just about making my business better. It’s about making my business better for my community.”