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Entrepreneur and Business Resources

Entrepreneurs are an essential part of Benton County’s business sector. It is a widely known fact that a large percent of business growth and job creation comes from small “home grown” and start-up businesses. We realize the importance of having resources available on how to start a business in Benton County and we invite anyone, whether you are an entrepreneur with an idea or an entrepreneur who is looking to grow your business, to check out the many programs the County and partnering agencies have to offer your business.

The following resource links provide information on various resources available to businesses and entrepreneurs. However, this list is not all-inclusive. Please contact the Benton County Economic Development Director to determine what programs may work for you.

  • Are you an entrepreneur?
    • Are you ready to be an entrepreneur? Take this entrepreneurial evaluation quiz provided by Canada Business.
    • Are you an entrepreneur? Check out these ten traits typical of entrepreneurs from the Wikipedia website.
    • What are the key terms that every entrepreneur should know according to the National Dialogue on Entrepreneurship? Click here to find out!

Business Planning Services

Will your business work?

Starting a business

Business Plans

Technical Assistance

Succession Planning


Finance Assistance

  • Micro Loans

    • Initiative Foundation - Seed Capital Fund
      • Financing for product concept, development and market research
      • Preference is given to projects exhibiting potential for substantial growth through the introduction of new products and services
      • $50,000 maximum per investment
    • United States Small Business Administration (SBA)
      • Provides very small loans to start-up, newly established, or growing small business
      • Maximum loan amount is $35,000; average loan is $13,000
  • Gap Financing
    • African Development Center
      • Loans of up to $25,000 to qualified entrepreneurs
    • Agricultural Utilization Research Institution - Distribution Enhancement Program
      • Limited funding to an active AURI projects
      • Financing for market and promotion samples
      • Grant amount varies
    • Agricultural Utilization Research Institution - Product Development Program
      • Focuses on developing a salable product, process or production technology to enhance a feasible product
      • Available to applicants who can demonstrate the project will impact the use of an existing agricultural commodity, alternative crops or livestock.
      • Grant amount varies
    • American Indian Economic Development Center
      • Provides gap financing and technical assistance to enrolled Band members who wish to start or expand businesses
    • Benton County Business Loan Fund
      • Financing for building acquisition and expansion, equipment purchases and other property improvements
      • Eligible applicants are manufacturing and service businesses within Benton County
      • Up to 35% of the project or $150,000 per investment
    • East Central Energy
      • Business must be located in the East Central Energy territory
      • Financing for land and building acquisition; land improvements; new building construction; building renovation; machinery and equipment; inventory purchase and working capital
      • Investment amounts vary
    • Latino Economic Development Center of Minnesota
      • Grows Minnesota businesses through orientations, classes, business development consulting, technical assistance, and access to capital for new and existing entrepreneurs
    • Minnesota's SBIR/STTR Assistance Program
      • Provides grants and contracts to small and start-up companies to develop new products and services based on advanced technologies
      • Funds breakthrough innovations, funds high-tech, high-risk projects which requires capital; first to market advantages; potential for sole source contracts
    • Tri-CAP FAIM Program
      • Program assists low-income working adults save money for a small business
      • All money saved is matched at a 3:1 ratio
      • Participants save up to $960 over two years and receive $3,840 towards their asset of choice
    • First Children’s Finance Loan Fund
      • Loans for child care and early education providers that improve the quality, accessibility and sustainability of their businesses
      • Financing to help expand or start child care and early education businesses; improve the quality of facilities; purchase supplies and equipment; fulfill licensing requirements
      • $1,000- $125,000 per investment
    • Great River Energy
      • Eligible applicants must receive electrical service from a Great River Energy member system rural electric cooperative
      • Financing for land and building acquisition; land improvements; new building construction; building renovation; machinery and equipment and working capital
      • Loan amount varies
    • Initiative Foundation - Direct Business Loan Fund
      • Financing for operating capital; fixed assets; land and buildings; construction or leasehold improvements; acquisition, renovation or installation of machinery and equipment
      • Targeted industries include manufacturing, technology-based business sectors and value-added agriculture
      • $50,000-$250,000 per investment
    • Initiative Foundation - Green Business Loans ($50,000-$250,000)
      • Targets entrepreneurs whose products and services help to protect and preserve the environment
      • Ventures that incorporate environmental responsibility; capture an existing waste stream for productive and economic reuse; reduce current energy demands or energy costs for residences or businesses; deliver a product or service associated with environmental preservation, conservation, protection, mitigation or clean-up
      • $50,000-$250,000 per investment
    • Initiative Foundation - Technology Capital Fund
      • Financing for operating capital; fixed assets, land and buildings; construction or leasehold improvements; machinery and equipment
      • Designed to help entrepreneurs launch emerging technology ventures and help established companies integrate proven productivity applications into their business operations and processes
      • $50,000-$500,000 per investment
    • Minnesota Business Finance Corporation (MBFC) - SBA 504 loan
      • Low, fixed-rate, long-term loans for capital improvements
      • Financing for land, equipment and buildings
    • Minnesota Power - Business Finance Assistance Program
      • Eligible applicants are in located in Minnesota Power’s territory (northwestern Benton County)
      • Applicants include start-up businesses and expansions in manufacturing, agriculture, information industries
      • $50,000-$2,000,000 per investment
    • United States Small Business Administration (SBA) - Financing Programs
      • A variety of financing options for small businesses
      • SBA does not make direct loans but they do guarantee loans made by banks and private lenders
      • Guarantee amounts vary
    • USDA - Rural Development - Business and Industry Guaranteed Loan Program
      • Guarantee up to 80% of bank loans to businesses in rural areas (populations with less than 50,000 people)
      • Sound business proposals with loan limits of $25 million and a minimum of 10% equity for existing businesses
      • Maximum of $25 million per investment
  • Venture Capital
    • Gaebler Ventures
      • A list of venture capital firms in Minnesota
    • Granite Equity Partners
      • Target companies will most likely have $5-$75 million of trailing revenue and $1-$5 million of EBITDA.
      • Finances buyouts, recapitalizations, and business expansions for established, profitable businesses. Does not invest in startup companies
      • Buyout preferences in manufacturing, service companies, media and communications distribution and agriculture
    • Minnesota Venture Capital Association
      • A list of members whose primary activity is the management of venture capital funds and investments
    • RAIN Source Capital
      • Organization works with angel investors who are interested in supporting growing companies
      • RAIN funds range in size from seven to 61 members, who have pooled anywhere from $500,000 to $2 million
  • Community Programs
    • Contact cities located in Benton County for information on their individual business financing programs that might fit your business needs (loans, tax-increment financing, etc.). Additional state and federal loan programs are available to businesses but must be applied for by the City or County.


Workforce Recruitment and Training

Environmental Assistance

  • Finance Assistance

    • Benton County Department of Development
      • Score Grants purpose: to increase waste abatement in Benton County
      • Grant requires 25% cash and/or in-kind match of the total project cost
    • Minnesota Department of Agriculture - Agricultural Chemical Response and Reimbursement Account (ACRRA)
      • ACRRA purpose: to reimburse persons for costs incurred after July 1, 1989, in cleaning up agricultural chemical and fertilizer incidents
      • Funding covers up to 80% of the eligible costs between $1,000 and $350,000
    • Minnesota Department of Commerce - Petrofund
      • Petrofund purpose: contamination-specific reimbursement program
      • Eligible costs: investigation and clean-up of a release from petroleum storage tank, necessary for corrective action with up to 90% of the total eligible clean-up costs up to $1 million
    • Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) - Minnesota Clean-up Revolving Loan Program
      • Program purpose: loans for the clean-up of contaminated sites and to provide greater opportunities to convert contaminated property into a marketable asset
      • Loan amount and terms vary
    • Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) - Environmental Assistance grants
      • Various environmental assistance grants
  • Technical Assistance
    • Minnesota Department of Agriculture - Agricultural Voluntary Investigation and Clean-up Program (AgVIC)
      • AgVIC purpose: to investigate and clean up parts of a facility which is often done when buying or selling a property, prior to construction on a site, and if a facility wants to expedite cleanup of known or suspected contamination
    • Minnesota Environmental Initiative - Brownfield Redevelopment
      • Program purpose: to achieve brownfields redevelopment through the creation of affordable housing, nonprofit facilities and/or green and open space
      • Services provided: contracting environmental consultants and lawyers, in-kind contributions, fieldwork, lab analysis, project management, and community outreach
    • Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) - Pollution prevention and waste reduction assistance
      • Provides businesses with resources in recycling in the workplace, environmental purchasing, hazardous waste, mercury in the environment, preventing waste and saving money and using recycled materials as a manufacturing feedstock
    • Minnesota Technical Assistance Program
      • Free technical assistance tailored to your business
      • Helps businesses develop and implement industry-tailored solutions that prevent pollution at the source, maximize efficient use of resources, and reduce energy use and cost to improve public health and the environment
  • Permits

Product Development Services

Peer Groups

Selecting a location

International Trade

  • Minnesota Trade Offices

    • The Minnesota Trade Office (MTO) promotes and assists in the expansion of exports and foreign direct investments that contribute to the growth of the Minnesota economy
    • Services are tailored for new exporters as well as experienced international companies, and include education and training, information and marketing, and counseling
  • United States Commercial Service
    • The U.S. Commercial Service is the trade promotion unit of the International Trade Administration. U.S. Commercial Service trade specialists in 107 U.S. cities and in more than 80 countries work with your company to help you get started in exporting or increase your sales to new global markets. Our services include:
    • World class market research
    • Trade events that promote your product or service to qualified buyers
    • Introductions to qualified buyers and distributors
    • Counseling and advocacy through every step of the export process