Here’s an update from the Iron Range Resources & Rehabilitation email newsletter…
Tech Boost was launched in late 2021 to help small businesses in northeastern Minnesota adopt new technologies that benefit their operations. The business owners received a free expert consultation from Northland SBDC on potential technology-related investments to assist their business. The business was then given the option to purchase technology equipment or services of which two-thirds of the costs were eligible for reimbursement through grant funding.
Tech Boost was part of Arrowhead Intelligent Region Initiative (AIR), a broadband partnership between Blandin Foundation, Northland Foundation and Iron Range Resources & Rehabilitation. The trio made available a pool of grant funds for local organizations working to support a broadband-fueled economy in northeastern Minnesota.
Throughout 2022, Northland SBDC consultants Vicki Hagberg and Curt Walczak met one-on-one with 76 small businesses to provide technical assistance and technology recommendations to bolster their operations. Sixty-one of the 76 businesses chose to utilize the Tech Boost grant. A total of $55,764 in grant funds were distributed, and over $120,000 was invested in technology improvements for regional businesses.
The grant funding was used for a variety of technologies including: new laptops, tablets and printers; point-of-sale system to help manage sales and inventory; systems to support online retail sales; lodging reservation systems; website development; networking systems; automated/smart medical equipment; and, equipment to develop real estate virtual tours.
Four of the 61 businesses that utilized the grant funding were:
- Bear Island Realty (Ely): Tech Boost Grant purchased equipment to develop virtual real estate tours to post on Realty.com. SBDC Technical Assistance was provided in the areas of business acquisition, human resources, QuickBooks and marketing. Bear Island Realty provides professional real estate services in the Ely and surrounding area.
- Joy & Company (Grand Marais): Tech Boost Grant purchased a new photo printer. SBDC Technical Assistance was provided in the areas of COVID-relief, general operations and marketing. Joy & Company is a retail shop with locally-made art, gifts, art supplies, antiques, vintage clothing and jewelry.
- Rose Cottage Baking Co. (Cook): Tech Boost Grant purchased a point-of-sale system and networking equipment to provide internet access at the bakery. SBDC Technical Assistance was provided in the areas of business plan development and financial projections to support a business expansion. Rose Cottage Baking Co. is a family-based eatery that serves homemade breakfast, lunch, coffee, espresso, handcrafted lattes and baked goods with no preservatives, no fillers and only freshly ground grains.
- Golden Paws Dog Training (Aurora): Tech Boost Grant purchased a new computer and monitor for business management and online dog training curriculum with national reach. SBDC Technical Assistance was provided in the areas of business plan development and financial projections for construction of a new dog training facility. Golden Paws provides in-person and online dog training for basic obedience, behavior problem solving and dog sport competition.
“Northland SBDC provided me with expert advice that was tailored to my bakery’s needs,” said Rebekah Olson, Rose Cottage Baking Co. owner. “I received help to confidently navigate the technology purchases and implementation at my bakery’s new brick and mortar location.”