The Dakota Rising Entrepreneur Fellowship drives the Dakota Rising system. When interested in a fellowship, entrepreneurs who are supported by a Site submit an Intent to Apply, which activates connections to a variety of resources. Value is added to the entrepreneur at every step of the selection process. This results in a complex system that nurtures a pool of entrepreneurial talent, cultivates existing entrepreneurs, networks resources and builds ongoing community support.
There are three steps of the selection process before being awarded a Fellowship: Intent to Apply, Applicant and Finalist. Each of these levels, and those awarded a Fellowship, have:
- Been recognized as adding value to their communities.
- Connected with the local development community.
- Been introduced and have the potential to form ongoing relationships with local, regional and statewide resources.
- Written professional and business growth plans.
Finalists, in addition to the above benefits, are also paired with a mentor who are involved in their industry. Finalists are mentored to improve their business plans, which are then submitted and reviewed by the Fellows Selection Committee.
When chosen as a Fellow, each entrepreneur makes a three-year commitment and receives $10,000 for professional and business development, as outlined in the entrepreneur’s Fellowship Plan. The greatest value of the Fellowship is the peer support available from each entrepreneur’s four-member Cohort, comprised of other Fellows and a Cohort mentor, which meets every two months to review each other’s progress toward specific goals.
For Fellows and their communities
Since 2009, three classes of Fellows have been selected, totaling 22 entrepreneurs. Nineteen are still engaged in the Fellowship. Those 19 Fellows have reported in aggregate:
- Assets increased by 30%
- Revenues increased by 605%
- Turned a six-figure loss into a seven-figure gain
- Fellows generated an 82% increase in number of full-time employees earning over $13.93/hour (South Dakota rural living wage)
- 40 new full-time positions were created 14 permanent part-time positions
Lorri was born and raised on a ranch west of Belle Fourche, SD. While playing basketball at the University of South Dakota, she developed foot problems. She had to have surgical reconstruction of both of her flat feet, which led her into podiatry. Lorri graduated from Des Moines University with the degree of Doctor of podiatric Medicine. She opened her first solo practice – Black Hills Foot Clinic – in Spearfish in 1992. Dr. Riley started the Spearfish Surgery Center in 1995.
In 2005, Lorri received a patent for ThinNail®, a topical treatment for thinning thick nails. In 2006, she formed a company called Rylo, Inc. to market ThinNail®. Her most recent product is called J1 Insoles®. J1 Insoles® is patent pending for its unique design in providing a generic arch support for people with flat … Read More »
Jeff & Robin prior have been the driving force behind this family owned business since its start in 1999. Dakota Greens of Custer was a roadside flower stand on the family property until 2004. The prior’s were married in Custer in 2000 and made it their permanent residence in 2004. Jeff retired from the US Army in 2006. The greenhouse and nursery business has steadily grown, retails a full line of garden plants, and is proud to supply and care for the City of Custer’s beautiful hanging gardens every Spring. These baskets are displayed by Custer’s main street business district from Memorial Day through Labor Day. Jeff is a Certified Nurseryman, holds an A.S. degree in Ornamental Horticulture, and a grower of Annuals & … Read More »
Kelly grew up on a family farm in rural Faulk County, SD. After high school he attended Mitchell Vo-Tech receiving a degree as an electrician. Kelly worked in the Minneapolis area as an electrician, but had a strong desire to return to his family’s farm. He moved back to the Faulkton area where he ran Kelly’s Electric and farmed and ranched with his father. He formed a partnership with his father called M&M Farms. While farming, he saw a need for a heavy duty bale feeder that would be durable and eliminate waste caused by the feeders that were available. Kelly and a friend worked together to design a unique cradle-style bale feeder, which Kelly later patented. Common Sense Balefeeder became its registered trademark … Read More »
Dakota Rising Aberdeen
After a typical childhood in Aberdeen, Troy packed his things and headed for Los Angeles to attend film school at the University of Southern California. He graduated in 1987 and worked in the film business for about thirteen months. He didn’t like the direction he was headed. Troy went back to the University and convinced them he was a graphic designer and was hired by the School of Business.
Troy moved back home to Aberdeen, got married, bought a house and began working as a graphic designer. Ten years later he would have a staff of 13 and dozens of name-brand Aberdeen accounts. Troy and wife Suzette purchased a historic building in downtown Aberdeen and continue to restore it. McQuillen Creative Group offices out of this building.
Troy has grown his business from a one-man shop that … Read More »
The Bunkhouse Inn of Isabel
Margaret was born and raised in Isabel, SD. After graduating from Isabel High School, she attended Stewart’s School of Hairstyling and received herCosmetology License. Margaret started her own business out of her home in Isabel and as her business grew, moved it to a larger location on Main Street, Isabel. In 1989, she and her husband, Dennis, purchased Hel-Mar Candles and renamed it Dakota Country Candles, merging it and her hair salon into one building. Margaret operated these businesses full-time until choosing to pursue a degree in Education. After graduating with an Education Degree, Suma Cum Laude from Northern State University and SiTanka University, she taught at Eagle Butte Upper Elementary until she and Dennis took 100% ownership of the implement and car dealership they’d been in partnership with for over 25 years. They also purchased the local motel … Read More »
The Potting Shed
Faulkton Area Economic Development Initiative
Cindy and Jerry Kopecky opened The potting Shed Greenhouse the spring of 2010. A long time passion for gardening and the desire to own their own business has led them to a successful businessventure in Faulkton, SD. The business and finance experience that Cindy gained as the Business Official of the Faulkton Area Schools for the past 27 years has been a valuable asset tothe Kopecky’s. The potting Shed is the only greenhouse in the county and the Kopecky’s have enjoyed building the business into a destination spot for surrounding community residents. One of their goals was to enhance the gardening experience for residents by offering classes, project Days, and new and innovative products.
Cindy and Jerry have been lifelong residents of the Faulkton area; raised three sons; have … Read More »
Double Duty Portable Storage
From an early age, Emily has known that one day she would operate a large company. She has used every job and experience as a learning opportunity to gain the skills needed to be successful. Working as a distributor, owning her own salons, being a landlord, and managing her family of six and foster children on a budget has prepared her for this next stage. Over the past two years, she and her husband have researched and started Double Duty portable Storage and Movers in Aberdeen. The company provides services to both residents and commercial businesses that need moving, portable storage, and transfer services. Currently operating in the Aberdeen area, the company plans to expand to the Midwest region and eventually become the leading portable storage and moving company in the nation. Double Duty’s … Read More »
The father and son team of Richard and Chris Brill started RABCO products in 2002 and moved it to Spearfish in 2009 to fill a niche of selling and manufacturing custom vinyl envelopes, sheet protectors, badge ID holders, restaurant menu covers, and more. RABCO is able to foil stamp logos and other information on their products as well. With Richard’s 40+ years in the plastics manufacturing industry and Chris’ business and IT background with MCI Communications and other telecom companies, they are determined to grow RABCO products into a competitive plastics manufacturing company. RABCO has leased a facility in Spearfish, SD, and has purchased several machines in order to manufacture in the Black Hills. Chris and Richard are off to a great start and look forward to many years here in SD.
Anderson Industries LLC president Kory Anderson’s experience in the manufacturing industry started at age 12 when he began working for his father’s business as a welder and machinist. In the last three years, he has managed the operations of Anderson Industries, a company he started in 2006. Prior to that, he was employed as the Engineering Manager for the Horsch Anderson Company, which manufactures large seeding and tillage equipment for agriculture. He was responsible for the design and manufacturing of new products, as well as managing the engineering relations with Horsch Anderson and partner company Horsch Maschinen GmbH located in Sitzenhof, Germany. Previous to his management position at Horsch Anderson, Kory attended North Dakota State University and studied Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering. During college, Kory worked at Larson Welding and Machine Company in Fargo, ND as the welding and … Read More »
Vanilla Bean Bakery
Peg Austin entered the baking trade after a successful 30+ year career in the healthcare industry. During her medical career, she worked as business office manager for a multi-specialty physician clinic, served as VP of a medical outsourcing company, taught physician reimbursement nationwide, and co-authored a college-level textbook. Peg and her husband of 33 years (and business partner) Chuck have two grown sons and have been part of the South Dakota business/healthcare industry since 1985.
An opportunity to fulfill a life-long dream of owning a bakery presented itself in 2009, and she accepted the challenge of keeping fond memories of a favorite hometown bakery alive, while bringing healthy trends and new tastes to the residents of Spearfish. With her new designation as a Dakota Rising Fellow, she looks forward to working hand-in-hand with the residents and business … Read More »
Having grown up in Britton, S.D., Kristin Bennett graduated in 1982 and left for sunny California where she earned degrees in art, graphics and business administration with an emphasis in public relations and marketing. After college, she worked as a recruiter for IBM, shared in her father’s business, and began her career in non-profit management in 1991. Having been widowed, then divorced, she found the job market to be extremely attractive in Denver. She moved there for a period of three years, greatly expanding her non-profit management business in the process. In August 2007, she realized that South Dakota was the best place to raise her kids and made the move ‘back home’. Today, Kristin runs her business in Britton, where she lives with her three children: Emma (13), Clara (9), and Joe (8). They are surrounded … Read More »
Josh is the Vice President/Owner of Crow Peak Brewing Co., LLC. Josh grew up on a cattle ranch in Montana where he learned the value of hard work and being self-employed, but it was in Montana and later Colorado where he developed a taste for premium, handcrafted beer. Josh and his wife Tanya and their newborn daughter Josie moved to Wall, S.D. in 2002 to manage the family ranch. In 2009, they sold the ranch and decided to go in a different direction. Having spent seven years in South Dakota with virtually no good beer to speak of, Josh convinced the rest of his family to invest in Crow Peak. With an email and a couple of phone calls to Jeff Drumm, the founder and current co-owner, the plan was set in motion! Crow … Read More »
Trail Tamer ATV, Inc.
Brad Heitmann was born and raised in the northeast corner of South Dakota by Lake City but the businesses he has owned or managed have taken him to Arkansas, Missouri and North Carolina. Currently, Brad is the President/CEO of Trail Tamer ATV, Inc of Eden, S.D., a company that specializes in the design and manufacturing of four-, six- and eight-wheel amphibious vehicles. A division of that same company is an ag equipment parts, repair and welding facility that markets its products worldwide. Brad, a true entrepreneur and developer, is dedicated to the success of the communities he lives in. He is actively involved in the Chamber of Commerce as President and V. President, Community Development V. President, A+ committee board member, Main Street Program facilitator, Workforce Investment Board private sector, Awarded Missouri Volunteer of the Year, Training … Read More »
Mark Hollenbeck is an Edgemont, S.D. native. He holds a B.S. degree in Chemical Engineering from South Dakota School of Mines & Technology and is a licensed Professional Engineer in South Dakota.
Mark has been involved in energy-producing industries for much of his career, designing and managing natural gas systems for the Black Hills Division of Montana Dakota Utilities and as the Executive Director of the South Dakota Office of the American Petroleum Institute. He was elected to the South Dakota House of Representatives where he served from 1989 through 1994. He also served as Mayor of Edgemont from 2001 to 2006. Along with his wife and four young children, he lives and ranches on an organic ranch north of Edgemont. In addition to their grass-fed organic business, … Read More »
Faulkton Area Economic Development Initiative
Lori opened Quilter’s Corner, in Faulkton, S.D. in August of 2009. Lori grew up in rural South Dakota and developed a passion for quilting shortly after marrying her husband, Kurt, 31 years ago. She and her husband have owned and operated a cattle ranch for over 30 years and in 1997 added a hunting lodge to the business. After working for several years at a quilt shop in Aberdeen, S.D., her dream came true in 2009 when she opened Quilter’s Corner and her vision of “someday” moving to a larger location became a reality in spring 2011. Quilter’s Corner is quickly becoming a destination shop with many customers traveling 50+ miles to share their enthusiasm for quilting and provide overwhelming support for a small-town, local business.
Faulkton Area Economic Development Initiative
Chad is co-owner and president of Homan Welding, a welding and repair company that started as a business adventure with his brother, Brian, in 2007. The desire of both Chad and Brian to be their own boss inspired them to start the company from the ground up. Previously, Chad worked as an employee on a farming and livestock ranch for 10 years. Before that, Chad was involved in the dairy industry, where he owned and managed a small dairy farm for two years.
Hula Design/Build Architecture
Dakota Rising Aberdeen
Tom earned his Master of Architecture degree from Montana State University in 2001 and interned for firms in New York City and Sioux Falls. In 2008, Tom opened Hula Design/Build Architecture, with offices in his native Aberdeen and in Sioux Falls. His firm is involved in various community-oriented project including downtown streetscape and façade projects, school and college designs, low-income housing, community planning, office, religious, retail and hospitality. Tom is also developing high-quality residential and commercial projects with the idea that Dakotans deserve better quality. Hula’s mission statement is “Bring more thoughtful design to the upper plains.”
In addition to Hula, Tom is also involved in several community organizations, builds office furniture, and co-hosts the Rock Garden Tour on South Dakota Public Radio.
Born in Los Angeles, California, Bryan has always had an eye toward television, video and film production. Growing up, it seemed he was always the official photographer and moviemaker for family vacations. During his career he has produced television specials from the Olympic Games to the Super Bowl. In local television, broadcasting as a sports director and special projects producer, he pioneered an award-winning documentary series on “Midwestern Wetlands Restoration” and was host of “Outdoor Iowa” and the groundbreaking “Friday Night Heroes” high school sports specials. More than 30 years of working both in front of and behind the camera, as well as experience in marketing and public relations, has provided him with in-depth knowledge of all aspects of the media world. In 2005, he founded Western Sky Media, Inc. and the company … Read More »
Castaway Products, located in Westlock, Alberta, Canada, was started by Chris Malo in 2002. But before starting his own business venture, he was the fifth employee hired at Lehman Trikes and worked there for eight years as a machinist, draftsman, Quality and Safety Manager, and Plant Manager. Lehman Trikes started in John Lehman’s garage and eventually became the largest trike company in the world. The opportunities and education Chris received from this experience were critical in building the skills he needed to succeed in business. After four successful years in business in Canada, Chris had the opportunity to expand his operation into the USA — he jumped at the offer. Black Hills Urethane began operations in May 2006 and within two years B.H.U. had tripled in size.
Jim has always been a hands-on sort of guy. He spent his teen years building stuff and wrenched in a bike shop. In college, he joined the solar car race team and spent far more effort designing and building solar cars than he did on classes. Fortunately, Jim had a knack for standardized tests and was accepted to graduate school in Mechanical Engineering at MIT. While there, he worked a bit on hybrid car technology and did his thesis on race car data acquisition. In 2006, he quit his real job and moved to Australia with his wife to train more and find inspiration. He was only there a few weeks before he really wanted a power meter, but didn’t like the options. Jim realized that his background in bicycles, engineering and data was … Read More »
Sisseton Flower Shop
After graduating with a business degree from Northern State University, Jenny worked in various offices and spent over 10 years with Farm Credit Services of America as a Country Home Loan Officer. Work was good, but she knew she wanted something more.
In fall 2006, Jenny completed a Floral Studies Program at Southeast Tech in Sioux Falls and tested to become a member of the South Dakota Designers Club. Being educated in the floral industries area was important to Jenny — she wanted to be ready to own the business in 2007.
As an active part of the Sisseton community, Jenny owns and operates the Sisseton Flower Shop. In the past four years her goal has been to expand the gift area of the shop and ultimately be recognized as a more than just a flower shop, since she offers … Read More »
Chicken Creek Communications
Dee has owned and operated Chicken Creek Communications, a full-service graphic design and communication service, since 2001. The business is located in Spearfish on the northern edge of South Dakota’s Black Hills.
Dee earned her bachelor’s degree in journalism from South Dakota State University before the Internet explosion. She specializes in print communications, but she is well-versed in web design and marketing options, as well. She is currently pursuing her master’s degree in journalism through the University of Nebraska at Lincoln’s distance program.
Dee has taught Mass Communications courses at Black Hills State University and has taught web design courses through the Black Hills Community Education program. She volunteers with various clubs and organizations throughout Spearfish. She currently serves on the Spearfish Area Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors. Dee and her husband, Matt, have three daughters.
Mark Stein is a second-generation owner of ESCO Manufacturing, a wholesale electric sign manufacturing firm with facilities in Watertown and Webster, S.D. ESCO’s primary customers are sign companies, which are located all across the United States. Also part of ESCO is Stein Sign Display, a retail sign company that sells, services, and installs signs for end-user customers, primarily in eastern South Dakota. Mark has been in and around the sign business almost his entire life, starting while still in high school during summer vacations. After graduating from Northern State in Aberdeen, Mark obtained his MBA from Arizona State University in 1979. While in college, Mark held several part-time jobs to pay for school expenses. These included videographer for KABY-TV, News Director for the campus radio station, and onsite management of a storage rental complex. Mark then joined … Read More »
Les has been a professional photographer since 1990. After learning the ins and outs of the stock photography business as a Photo Editor and Image Library Manager, he decided to put his skills to the test with his own work.
Les is also a teacher, teaching photography classes and workshops. In 2001, Profotos.com selected him as one of the top 100 photographers in the country.
Les is widely published and his published images have appeared in magazines, advertising campaigns, retail packaging, calendars, websites, books and more. Les and his wife, Julaine, own Focus West Gallery in Spearfish, as well as a stock photo agency, Royal Tine Images, Inc. Les’ work is also available in several galleries and art shows throughout South Dakota and the western US.
Tobey and his dad, Wayne, run Renegade Auto and Wild Dutchman Seeds. Tobey is a farm boy through and through. Growing up, he farmed with his family and raised dairy cows and feeder cattle. Tobey attended Lake Area Vo-tech in Watertown and received his auto mechanics degree. He and wife, Sandra, moved back to the farm where Tobey did most of the mechanic work. In 1994, he started Renegade Auto, a body shop, with a friend. Tobey also turned their old hip roof milking barn into a hunting lodge and moved Wild Dutchman Seeds to a part of that barn. In 2006, the hunting lodge burned down, destroying the Wild Dutchman Seeds homemade equipment. Tobey didn’t give up though, he restarted Wild Dutchman Seeds in a new facility where they … Read More »
The Gift Garden and “Photos To Go”
Four Bands Community Fund
Since early childhood, Nichole has been deeply interest in photography. The youngest memories of her childhood revolve around having a camera and taking pictures of people, animals and nature. Although shooting photos was always a pleasure, the greatest joy was seeing the pictures. She still has that same heart fluttering feeling today as she did when she was younger. “It’s the gratification seeing someone smile when you capture that one little memory that can be marveled for years to come,” says Nichole.
Nichole was born and raised in Eagle Butte, S.D. the heart of the Cheyenne River’s Sioux Reservation. She graduated from high school and went on to earn two associate degrees. In 2006 she purchased The Gift Garden in Eagle Butte, a flower shop and gift … Read More »