‘Southern Hills on the Rise’ applicant accepted into Dakota Rising Fellowship

Posted on November 14, 2016

Paula Jensen
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Source: http://rapidcityjournal.com/

On Saturday evening, Oct. 8, eight new Fellows were announced at the Dakota Rising Gala, held in Spearfish. Curt Lout, owner and proprietor of Mammoth Signs and Awnings in Hot Springs, was among the candidates chosen for the fellowship.

The Dakota Rising Fellowship Program is a personal and professional program for accelerated business growth. The statewide program focuses on second stage entrepreneurs who have been in business at least one year, have worked through the survival stage of business ownership, are growth-oriented, and able to sustain one or more employees.

What is an entrepreneur? An entrepreneur is someone who exercises initiative by organizing a venture to take benefit of an opportunity and, as the decision maker, decides what, how, and how much goods or services will be produced. As a rule, entrepreneurs greatly value self-reliance, strive for excellence, are highly optimistic and favor challenges involving risk.

The Dakota Rising Fellowship Program provides a system and tools to help these entrepreneurs build the skills needed to expand and grow their businesses to achieve their business and personal goals. Fellows are placed in cohorts of four for the three-year program. The cohorts have face-to-face meetings four times a year and use electronic means to communicate regularly with each other. The fellows are held accountable for reaching their goals over the three-year period.

Andrea Powers of Hot Springs, site coordinator for the program, said she was relieved when Lout was chosen.

“Curt has worked diligently for the opportunity to become a fellow, attending evening workshops via skype while he was attending all-day trainings out of state, taking advantage of opportunities to contribute to community development, and working to create a regional customer base,” Powers said.

Lout had designed and fine-tuned his business plan three times before submitting the final application.

“The selection process at the conference is stressful, with two sets of half hour interviews and a presentation before a group of alumni, interviewers and site coordinators,” Lout explained.

Powers also mentioned ‘fellows’ from previous year’s cohorts. These include Mark Hollenbeck of Edgemont, owner of Sunshine Ranch LLC; Jeff Prior of Custer, owner of Dakota Greens; and Cristin Stewart of Hot Springs, owner of The Vault.

“As the fellows graduate the three-year process, they become mentors and advisors for new fellows,” she said. “Our site, ‘Southern Hills on the Rise’ includes both Custer and Fall River Counties. Rural communities such as ours depend on entrepreneurs to grow and thrive. We owe them our support because without them there would be no ‘downtown’ in our town. Small business, be it agricultural, manufacturing, or retail, is the life blood of rural America. Otherwise we are reduced to tourist-driven, seasonal existence, or bedroom communities lacking self-determination.”

If you are interested in learning more about the Dakota Rising Program, contact Powers at 605-890-0338 or email edshedco@gmail.com for more information.

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