Recognizing Women in Business
Friday, October 12, 2018
October is National Women's Small Business Month. It’s an opportune time to recognize and celebrate the impact female entrepreneurs have on our economy. About one-third of businesses in the U.S. are now owned by women.
When women hold visible business leadership roles, it encourages other women to consider starting their own business. Amanda Bechen is a stellar example of entrepreneurism in Wagner. She’s a CPA with a successful business who recently began investing in commercial real estate.
Bechen grew up in Charles County but moved away for college and then worked at a regional public accounting firm in the Black Hills. In 2011, she and her husband decided to move back to the area because they wanted to raise their children closer to family in rural South Dakota.
With her considerable public accounting experience, Bechen decided to start her own tax and accounting firm. She admits it was hard to leave her job in the Black Hills, where she had great healthcare and other benefits.
“It takes certain bravery to leave all that behind and come to a rural place and recreate those things,” she says. “But the longer we’re here the deeper we root into this rural area. The concept of moving back to an urban place is beyond me now.”
Bechen has more than 20 years of experience in public accounting. Clients call her a “trusted business advisor” and she prides herself on offering an alternative and holistic approach that helps individuals and entrepreneurs move beyond basic compliance to establishing financial goals and building their net worth.
For the last four tax seasons, Bechen has worked out of an office suite in a building with three other businesses. She recently purchased the 5,500-square-foot building as a commercial investment and way of ensuring her business can continue to grow in its prime location on Wagner’s main street.
GROW South Dakota funds were part of a financing package that enabled Bechen to purchase a second, adjacent commercial building. She says the nonprofit offered advantageous interest rates and an experience that was friendly, confidential and process oriented. Funds borrowed will also be used for needed maintenance and repair on the building, which is currently leased by a durable medical equipment company.
Bechen is pleased be able to invest in Wagner. She’s found it to be an ideal location to grow a business as well as raise a family. “There’s a lot to be excited about in Wagner, in my opinion,” she says. “I never thought it would work to move back. It’s great to be proven wrong on that point.”
Among Wagner’s attributes are excellent recreational opportunities and a top-notch school system, according to Bechen. She believes recent investments in housing and healthcare will improve quality of life, as will local efforts to address racism and methamphetamine abuse, issues many towns across the country are grappling with.
Bechen and her husband have gotten involved with projects to benefit the community and they envision a bright future for the small town. “There is a lot of opportunity in rural America, especially for educated people with experience and willingness to lead in rural places,” she says.