40 Years of Helping Businesses Grow
Thursday, September 06, 2018
For 40 years, entrepreneurs and existing businesses have benefitted from GROW South Dakota’s business lending program. It has now given 2,022 loans to 1,220 companies in northeast South Dakota, directly financing more than $70.3 million in business loans.
It began in 1978 when the Northeast South Dakota Energy Conservation Corporation (now DBA as GROW South Dakota) made its first loan. The nonprofit was one of the first in the state to offer revolving loan funds for businesses. At the time, it served 10 counties in northeast South Dakota. Now, its service area has more than doubled to 22 counties.
One of the organization’s primary goals of promoting economic development has remained the same over the last four decades. It has an impressive record of helping to create and maintain a total of 12,407 jobs — an average of just over six jobs per loan.
GROW South Dakota has a dedicated staff and board of directors, several have been with the organization for more than 20 years. CEO Lori Finnesand has worked for the organization for 27 years and has witnessed its tremendous growth.
“When I first started, it was three months until we closed a loan. Now we close three loans a week regularly,” she says.
GROW South Dakota helps a wide range of companies, whether it’s a small sideline project or a big manufacturing plant that requires multiple lenders. Loans amounts range from $500–$250,000 and help businesses acquire real estate, equipment and inventory or help provide needed working capital.
Longterm partnerships with area lenders have allowed the organization to help more businesses. “Businesses can grow through us. They can start with a smaller loan and advance to a larger loan where we partner with area banks to make it happen,” Finnesand says.
To commemorate its 40th anniversary, GROW South Dakota is bringing all three of its boards together to have a joint meeting in Sisseton. The program will serve as a thank you to the board leadership for their service.
The loan fund has matured over the years and continues to grow with business successes. Finnesand points out that the impact of the nonprofit’s business lending is readily apparent. “The fact that we can drive through any town in northeast South Dakota and point out businesses we’ve assisted over the years, from small hardware stores to large manufacturers, is very rewarding.”
Category: Success Stories