May 29, 2024

FAIRMONT– In order to help retain businesses and ensure their success, the Fairmont Economic Development Authority was given a $20,000 grant for succession planning from the Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation. Succession planning is a strategy for replacement planning or passing on leadership roles.

Fairmont’s economic development coordinator, Linsey Preuss, explained that every year SMIF puts out a grant application for an economic development grant.

“They encourage communities to think differently about what they would like to do in the future and what their needs are,” Preuss said.

She said one of the challenges seen in Fairmont is succession planning and the lack of people knowing what resources are out there.

“It’s not like people buy or sell a business every day. It’s something you do maybe once or twice in a lifetime,” Preuss said.

The plan is to start planning the workshops in the first quarter of 2022. Preuss said they’ll also be offering one-on-one consulting, but they’re also looking for a cohort of businesses that are interested in learning more.

She said it’s for all kinds of businesses, including retail, restaurants, manufacturing, service and construction trades.

Preuss said the grant also requires a one to one match, but not all of it has to be in cash.

“We brought in some project partners to provide some of that as in-kind,” Preuss said.

FEDA will give $5,000. Local project partners include Fairmont Area Chamber of Commerce and Fairmont Community Education and Recreation. Regional partners are the Small Business Development Center, University of Minnesota Extension and SMIF.

Preuss said the goal is to make sure local businesses have long-term survival plans.

“We don’t want our businesses to close because that was their retirement plan,” she said, adding, “Two-thirds of U.S. businesses right now are owned by baby boomers. It is in the best interest of our community to make sure those businesses transition in a really thoughtful and intentional way.”

She said there are prospective buyers out there, especially after Covid as entrepreneurship has greatly increased.

Preuss said she gets phone calls from people asking if there are businesses available to buy, so they also intend for the grant money to help those on the other side of the matter, the ones who want to purchase and own a business.

“We want to get the seller and buyer together and help them through the process,” she said.

However, Preuss said they don’t want people to think succession planning only means someone is getting ready to close their businesses or retire. She said succession planning could be for anyone.

“What if you’re the key employee or sole proprietorship and something happens to you tomorrow? what’s going to happen to your business. What’s your plan,” she said.

It’s also intended to help new business owners develop a plan to ensure their success as well.

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