Northland SBDC experiences growth in rural small businesses in 2022

Northland SBDC experiences growth in rural small businesses in 2022

Small businesses are the heart of small towns and communities across the nation. 

An organization that assists small businesses throughout the U.S. is America’s Small Business Development Center (SBDC). The organization assists entrepreneurs looking to start, manage, or grow their businesses. 

“One of the things I think that’s great about the SBDC network is that we can be that sounding board for small business owners,” said Pat Campanaro, the Cook County consultant for the Northland SBDC. “They can come to us with maybe problems, but more importantly, what their next step is, what’s their vision going to be.” 

Campanaro has worked as a consultant for the Northland SBDC in the Cook County location for the past ten years. The Cook County SBDC is one of seven counties included within the Northland region of Minnesota. In addition, the Northland SBDC serves five tribal nations.

This year, Campanaro celebrated her tenth anniversary working for the Northland SBDC. She said since she took her first client in June of 2013, she has helped start 79 new small businesses in Cook County.

“When you think about that number of new businesses, that has a great effect on our economy and our ability to grow and change,” Campanaro said. 

Since 2013, Campanaro has spent 6,237 hours consulting small business owners and has met with 512 clients. The total revenue contribution to Cook County since 2013 is $31,812,379.

The Cook County location, and many other Northland SBDC counties, has experienced growth in recent years. In 2022, Campanaro met with 174 clients and helped assist 14 new businesses, totaling 762 consulting hours. 

Vicki Hagberg, the Northland SBDC regional director, said the Northland SBDC as a whole “saw a really big increase in 2022.” 

In a typical year, Hagberg said the Northland SBDC helps between 40 to 50 small businesses start up. However, in 2022, the Northland SBDC helped nearly 60 small businesses start or transition to new ownership. “So those are fantastic numbers. Record breaking for our region.”

“About 70% of our work in 2022 was done in rural communities in rural census tracts,” Hagberg said. “We were able to do this rural work and help build small communities, and help them be vibrant.”

“It’s something that we couldn’t do without our local consultants like Pat, who are really connected to their community, and are there to be the guide and be that trusted advisor for clients as they are working on those goals,” Hagberg said. 

In 2022, the Northland SBDC consultants met with 900 clients and deployed over 5,000 hours, totaling over $33 million in capital being raised to help businesses start up and grow, Hagberg said. 

While the Northland SBDC is a resource for small business owners to grow their businesses further, Hagberg said, “We’re really there to be a guide for a small business owner. A lot of the work is done by the business owner themselves.”

She added, “We’re there to provide trusted tools and templates and walk people through this process. But we’re not going to do it all for a client. We’re not going to do it all for the business.”

Campanaro reflects on her time at the Northland SBDC and shares she is excited to continue helping small businesses in the community. “The way that we work together cooperatively in this community and small business cohorts and helping each other out is also something that I’m really proud of.”

On March 15, Governor Tim Walz celebrated Small Business Development Centers Day by saying, “Small businesses are at the heart of Minnesota’s economy, and we want to see each of them thrive.”

“Our budget will build on Minnesota’s strong economy and invest in small businesses across the state so that they have the tools and resources they need to succeed,” said Governor Walz.

WTIP’s Kalli Hawkins spoke with Campanaro and Hagberg about the achievements of the Northland SBDC to celebrate Small Business Developments Day on March 15. Audio from the interviews is below.