Resources to Support North Dakota’s Small Businesses, Non-profits, and Municipalities
Katherine Roth serves as the Executive Director of the Jamestown Regional Entrepreneur Center (JREC), which is located on the campus of the University of Jamestown. The JREC was established to support the creation of startups in the counties of Wells, Foster, Griggs, Stutsman, Barnes, Logan, LaMoure, McIntosh, and Dickey. Katherine organizes entrepreneurship and workforce education events to network individuals interested in various industries. Additionally, she organizes customized business training and individual technical assistance to support individuals in starting and building a business. The website for the JREC is www.JRECenter.com. Katherine Roth may be contacted at Katherine.Roth@uj.edu and 701-253-4112.
The Jamestown Regional Entrepreneur Center (JREC) first opened its doors on August 17, 2017. Our entrepreneur center focuses on providing relevant business information and resources to small business and student audiences, to support innovation and growth. We prioritize education by collaborating with the region’s educational stakeholders, such as the University of Jamestown and Valley City State University and post-secondary institutions, as well as, non-profit organizations. We host events such as Youth Technology Challenge and Manufacturing Day to encourage the acquisition of new skills and to connect students to future employers. In addition, JREC is uniquely positioned to serve as a catalyst for economic growth throughout the region. The entrepreneur center works with small businesses and students to improve the development and application of diverse ideas in an effort to stimulate business profitability.
The JREC also prioritizes connecting nascent and existing entrepreneurs to resources in the greater North Dakota business community. According to the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Office of Advocacy, there are 74,202 small businesses in North Dakota employing 195,312 individuals. While accounting for more than half (57.4 percent) of North Dakota employees, small businesses have been severely impacted by the pandemic. According to the North Dakota Job Service’s Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages, at the end of the second quarter of 2020 there were a combined total of 2,428 private and government entities in the nine south central counties of Wells, Foster, Griggs, Stutsman, Barnes, Logan, LaMoure, McIntosh, and Dickey. This is a decrease from the combined total of 2,533 private and government entities reported by the North Dakota Job Service at the end of the fourth quarter in 2019. Especially now, when small businesses try to recover, it is important to be aware of the resources that are available for them.
Listed below are a few key state and federal resources that we often refer to small businesses.
Innovate North Dakota is a voucher and grant program available to entrepreneurs in North Dakota. Through guidance from business coaches at Entrepreneurial Centers, Innovate ND provides the entrepreneurial community of North Dakota the resources needed to help turn an innovative idea into a profitable business. The program now has four phases that grow as the business grows.
Entrepreneurs must meet the following criteria for acceptance into Phase 1: the business is registered or will be registered in North Dakota; the idea or concept is innovative in that it is a new business idea or concept or that it is an existing business model with a new innovative approach; the idea or concept is a scalable business by bringing value back to North Dakota; the business serves a market outside the entrepreneur’s initial community; and the business is accepted into Phase 1 on or after July 1, 2019. Funding is limited and available on a first-come, first-served basis. The Jamestown Regional Entrepreneur Center is one of four certified centers throughout North Dakota to provide support and mentorship under this program.
The mission of the APUC grant is to create new wealth and employment opportunities through the development of new and expanded uses of North Dakota agricultural products. To further this mission, the APUC will consider grant requests which: lead to and result in new and/or expanded uses for the agricultural products of North Dakota; provide processes and/or technologies that improve efficiencies in productivity and value-added agricultural products; are agriculture-based products preferred by consumers; diversify agricultural crop and animal industries and collateral uses for agricultural resources; focus industry and job creation efforts in rural areas of the state. Priority consideration is given to projects most consistent with the mission of the APUC. Funded areas are basic and applied research, marketing and utilization, farm diversification, technical assistance, nature based agri-tourism, and prototype development and technology.
The Rural Business Development Grant (RBDG) is a competitive grant designed to support targeted technical assistance, training, and other activities leading to the development or expansion of small and emerging private businesses in rural areas that have fewer than 50 employees and less than $1 million in gross revenues. Programmatic activities are separated into enterprise or opportunity type grant activities. Eligible entities that may apply to this program include, but are not limited to: towns, communities, state agencies, authorities, nonprofit corporations, institutions of higher education, federally recognized Tribes, and rural cooperatives.
Enterprise type grant funds must be used on projects to benefit small and emerging businesses in rural areas as specified in the grant application. Uses may include: training and technical assistance, such as project planning, business counseling/training, market research, feasibility studies, professional/technical reports, or product/service improvements; acquisition or development of land, easements, or rights of way, construction, conversion, renovation of buildings, plants, machinery, equipment, access streets and roads, parking areas, utilities; pollution control and abatement; capitalization of revolving loan funds including funds that will make loans for start-ups and working capital; distance adult learning for job training and advancement; rural transportation improvement; community economic development; technology-based economic development; feasibility studies and business plans; leadership and entrepreneur training; rural business incubators; and long-term business strategic planning.
Opportunity type grant funding must be used for projects in rural areas and they can be used for: community economic development, technology-based economic development, feasibility studies and business plans, leadership and entrepreneur training, rural business incubators, and long-term strategic planning.
The University of Jamestown has a newly designed and well-equipped Mechanical Engineering laboratory that its students access to synthesize technical, professional, and general knowledge in the field. The labs are focused on physics, material testing, fluid mechanics, instrumental electronics, and an engineering computer lab, which houses 25 new computers with 3D Drafting, Finite Element Analysis modeling software for computer programming, as well as, a virtual reality characterization station. A Senior Design Lab also contains manufacturing, welding, and 3D printing equipment. The larger equipment in this lab are as follows: three Kent Manual Lathes with a six-inch swing, three Kent Manual Mills, one Haas CNC Mini Mill with a 16 inch x 12 inch x 10 inch work envelope and a 10,000 rpm spindle, one ArcLight Dynamic CNC plasma cutter 4 foot x 4 foot work area, one Baileigh Industrial RDB-100 tube bender, one Baileigh Industrial 3-in-1 combination shear, brake, and roll and one Miller Mig welder.
Students collaborate with industrial sponsors to support new product development. The Senior Design Capstone is a time commitment of two academic semesters for innovators and inventors who would like to access the university’s resources to support prototype development. Mechanical Engineering students are also able to support small businesses through internships and cooperative education opportunities. Small businesses may contact the Jamestown Regional Entrepreneur Center or the University of Jamestown to learn more about how to create these partnerships. Industries that students become involved with are aerospace, agribusiness, automotive, manufacturing, materials, Nano-technology, and petroleum.
The Community Alliance for Management Consulting (CAMC) course is a unique and innovative partnership between the Jamestown Regional Entrepreneur Center and the University of Jamestown’s Business Department that helps, improves, and serves North Dakota communities. The program is designed to provide free consulting services to businesses, non-profit, and government organizations in North Dakota. These consulting services include business planning, market research, social media marketing, website development, and human resource management. The program connects student teams with North Dakota organizations. Students benefit from the applied educational experience and businesses benefit from the free consulting services provided under the supervision of the University of Jamestown’s marketing professor and the director of the Jamestown Regional Entrepreneur Center. The consulting projects are an academic semester in duration each fall and spring semester.
The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) helps small business owners and entrepreneurs pursue the American dream. This federal agency provides the small business communities with counseling, capital, and contracting expertise. The state office is located in Fargo and its website is https://www.sba.gov/offices/district/nd/fargo. It funds small business consulting centers, such as Veterans Business Outreach Center (VBOC) of the Dakotas at UND, the Women’s Business Centers (WBC) in Bismarck and Fargo, the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) network locations in Bismarck, Bowman, Devils Lake, Dickinson, Fargo, Grand Forks, Minot, Southeast ND and Williston. Additionally, the Procurement and Technical Assistance Center (PTAC) in Fargo, which offers federal contracting assistance to small businesses that would like to sell their products and services to the federal government, is also a funded operation through the SBA. Each location provides business advising and training services to an array of industries.
The Jamestown Regional Entrepreneur Center is available to support new and existing small business inquiries. We encourage entrepreneurs to reach out to our center to learn how we can connect them with the greater North Dakota small business community. The website for the JREC is www.JRECenter.com. Katherine Roth may be contacted at Katherine.Roth@uj.edu and 701-253-4112.