South Dakota values small business and Dakota Resources (a nonprofit community development organization that stimulates rural communities in South Dakota) wanted to celebrate that fact. The annual Dakota Rising Empower! Conference was hosted at the Spearfish Holiday Inn Convention Center from October 6–8, 2016. It was here that Dakota Resources celebrated rural entrepreneurs and communities through their vision of learning and sharing in business expansion and community growth.
The Dakota Rising Fellowship is a three-year program created to assist new rural entrepreneurs in accelerating the expansion of their businesses. During this year’s conference, ten new rural entrepreneurs were initiated into the fellowship. The elite second-stage entrepreneurs includes: Brad Hahn and Jay Yohner, Pioneer Building, Martin; Ruth Bouza, Custom Touch & Limo, LLC, Wagner; Carrie Kuhl and Renee Halgerson, Hitch Studio, Brookings; Jenni Tucker, Help-U-Rent, Spearfish; Rachael Woods, Apparel WorX, Wagner; Curt Lout, Mammoth Handcrafted Signs, Hot Springs; Hillary Holland, HH Designs, Britton; and Julie Fishbach, Mainstream Boutique, Aberdeen.
Renee Halgerson, Hitch Studio entrepreneur, shared her excitement about the fellowship, “We were so honored to receive such a prestigious statewide award. We spent so much time on the application, booth presentation, and preparing for the interviews. It was exciting to hear our names called as winners! Hitch Studio is the first business from Brookings to ever get the Dakota Rising Fellowship grant. It’s a three-year program for business exploration, sales, marketing, advice, mentors and growth. We receive our grant money after one year in the program and are so excited to grow in areas that weren’t possible before this grant. It’s exciting to begin our journey on this wonderful fellowship.”
The event also honored the current Dakota Rising rural communities for their continued efforts to support local businesses and act as catalysts for economic growth. Recognized for the positive integration of development programs that encourage a culture of entrepreneurship and support strategies for the expansion and retention of businesses in their communities were the following: Faulkton, Southern Hills (Fall River and Custer Counties), Southern Charles Mix County, and Lawrence County. These honorees have consistently recruited multiple entrepreneur Fellows since their initiation into the program. Faulkton was honored as the 2016 Innovative Community of the Year.
Since Dakota Resources established Dakota Rising in 2008, the program has honored over fifty rural entrepreneurs with Fellowships. Through the collaboration of the Dakota Rising Fellowship, previous experienced Fellows, and leading regional business mentors; eager business owners have been able to expedite their business growth.
Carrie Kuhl, Hitch Studio Fellow, reflected on the honor, “We could not be more excited. The people we have had the opportunity to meet during the interview process have already been so helpful. I am looking forward to getting to know them, as well as more about each of their businesses”.
Please contact Beth Davis at firstname.lastname@example.org or (605) 978-2804 for more insight regarding Dakota Resources and the Dakota Rising Initiative.
Hitch Studio was so honored!