Program Boosts Towns
Britton native Hillarey Holland is hoping to take her business to the next level, and she wants to help inspire others to do the same thing.
Holland, a 2010 Britton-Hecla graduate, was one of 10 new rural entrepreneurs from around the state to receive a Dakota Rising Fellowship earlier this month. She started HH Designs, a graphic design business, in Britton two years ago.
A Dakota Rising Fellow is a person who has taken a startup business to a viable, profit-earning stage and is poised for the next level of growth. After successfully completing the application process, and being chosen, Fellows are connected to a community of statewide resources, mentors and financial experts.
Personal and business growth strategies are developed while working in a small group where Fellows help one another, despite vastly different industries and experiences. After one year in the program, each Fellow is awarded a $10,000 grant to support professional growth and business expansion.
The underlying theme of the program is to cultivate entrepreneurs dedicated to growing themselves and their businesses by connecting them to a system of support, resulting in economic growth for the community.
Holland would encourage other area businesses to consider getting involved.
“There are many other businesses in town that have potential and it would be great if we could get other businesses in Britton involved with the program,” said Holland. “I would highly encourage them to apply for the award and experience of getting ideas about community growth and business expansion in rural communities.”
Dakota Rising was launched in 2008 by Dakota Resources and has since awarded Fellowships to over 50 rural entrepreneurs. Former Britton resident Kristin Bennett was one of the first Dakota Rising Fellows in 2009.
Bennett was the one that encouraged Holland to apply for the program.
“The only reason I even knew about it was because Kristin mentioned it,” said Holland. “It is for second-stage businesses, not start-ups, and you just need to present your business plan, answer questions about how you want to grow, provide financials, and go through an interview process to be selected as a finalist.”
The program has helped these ambitious business owners fast-track their business growth and to take advantage of the insight, ideas, and experience of other Fellows and leading business mentors from across the region.
Holland said that just being around other entrepreneurs, regardless of their business, is a big benefit of the program.
“I was surprised how much I could relate to other businesses, even though they were way different,” noted Holland. “A big part of it is also learning about ways to get involved in the community and helping the community thrive.”
Holland is in the process of opening a new business on Main Street. HH Designs has been housed in the Flowers & Fudge on Main building but she has purchased the office building on the south side of Seventh Street and the corner of Main from Jason Bender. Remodeling work is ongoing with a hoped-for opening date sometime before Christmas.
“It’s kind of scary to actually buy a building, but I really want to be part of the community and I’m not afraid of hard work,” said Holland.
She sees a similar attitude among other area businesses and stressed that the Dakota Rising program could be a good way for them to continue to move forward.
“A lot of people look at the $10,000 grant, but that’s really just a bonus,” stressed Holland. “I am more excited about gaining knowledge and experience and making connections with other people. I really would like to see more Britton and area people apply because I think it will not only help their business but our community in general.”