Dixon Coffee Company

Kayleigh Dixon started working in coffee shops while a student at Black Hills State University and had a dream of one day starting her own coffee business. “It can be kind of intimidating,” she recalls. “Even though I majored in business management in college, doing it yourself puts it on a whole other scale. My husband, Christopher, gave me the push I needed and said, ‘You can do this.'”

Small Business Development Center Regional Director, Dona Leavens, at West River Business Service Center, gave Kayleigh and Christopher the business advice they needed to start Dixon Coffee Company, in 2014.

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Bison Food Store

When the previous owners of Bison Food Store (originally called “Jack & Jill”) decided they were ready to retire, the community of Bison, SD faced the grim prospect of losing the only grocery store within 50 miles. As they began their search for new management or a buyer, town leaders reached out to the Governor’s Office of Economic Development’s Lori Frederick. She connected Bison Area Economic Development with staff at the West River Business Service Center to get an analysis of the store’s financials.

A local buyer, Chad Barnes, stepped forward to purchase Bison Food Store.

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About You Physical Therapy

Physical therapist and owner of About You Physical Therapy in Rapid City, Laura Bonsness, recently purchased a previously vacant building on Sheridan Lake Road through the SBA 504 loan program. Now Laura is transforming the former funeral home into a state-of-the-art physical therapy facility and community education space. She first started working with WRBSC’s Small Business Development Center Regional Director, Dona Leavens, nearly a decade ago.

Dona says, “Laura got the funding to start her business in 2010 and quickly began expanding it. She has added staff and has outgrown her current space. She’s a phenomenal businesswoman and a real go-getter.”

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Meet Matt Stone

West River Business Service Center’s newest business consultant is Matt Stone. A hiking, climbing, hunting, kayaking and all-around outdoor enthusiast, Matt is excited to have recently relocated with his wife to the Black Hills from Yankton. In his capacity as a business consultant, Matt advises people who are interested in starting their own businesses. He guides entrepreneurs in the steps needed for developing a business plan, as well as helping them develop projections for obtaining a loan. “I enjoy helping people who are first getting started or improving an existing business.”

Matt himself owned several small businesses previously and draws on this personal experience when working with clients:

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Revolving Loan Fund Success Story

Part coffee shop, part glass blowing studio, Pump House at Mind Blown Studio in Deadwood is in the midst of a substantial expansion project.

Owner and glass artist, Toni Gerlach, received a small loan from the West River Revolving Loan Fund (WRRLF) in 2013 to start her business, and in 2018, with the business doing well, she secured a loan for expansion in partnership with Black Hills Community Economic Development’s Lawrence County Revolving Loan Fund.

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Toni Gerlach, Mind Blown Studio

Helping Businesses Achieve Government Contracts

Small business owners may not be used to hearing the words “zero cost,” but WRBSC’s new procurement consultant, Amy Meyer, wants South Dakota business owners to know about a free service for them. At one of the four Procurement Technical Assistance Centers (PTAC) in South Dakota, Amy offers free advice and assistance to help businesses apply for state, local, and federally funded government contracts.

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Amy Meyer - West River Business Service Center

Board Member Spotlight

Black Hills Community Economic Development’s newest board member, Kory Menken, brings a wealth of experience to the position, as well as West River roots. Menken grew up in Rapid City and worked in the congressional offices of Senators Thune and Pressler. His work in economic and workforce development then took him east for 12 years, where he served as the Director of Workforce Solutions for The Siouxland Initiative and the Siouxland Chamber of Commerce in Sioux City, Iowa and also as the Executive Director of the North Sioux City Economic Development Corporation. However, he knew he would come back, “I’ve always been a West River guy, and I want to put my expertise and experience to work for West River.”

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Kory Menken

Dona Leavens Named SBDC State Star

Dona Leavens, Regional Director of the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) located at the West River Business Service Center, has been named the 2018 South Dakota SBDC State Star.  Dona was chosen for her leadership, significant contribution to the SBDC program, and her commitment to small business.  Congratulations Dona!

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Borrower Spotlight: Lemmon IGA

Larry and Marilyn (Blondie) Woolston have spent their careers running grocery stores in rural South Dakota and Montana. Their last remaining store was the IGA on Main Street in Lemmon. Due to the limited size of the building and a lot unsuitable for expansion, the Woolstons decided to expand their store in a new location. Last year, they moved into their brand new location at the intersection of Highways 12 & 73. Along with a doubled-in-size grocery store, the location features gas pumps and a coffee shop. The Woolston’s partnered with Dacotah Bank and Black Hills Community Economic Development to obtain an SBA 504 loan for the project. By using the 504 program, the down payment was lower than conventional financing, and the interest rate is fixed for the term of the SBA loan.