GROW SD: Empowering Individuals, Cultivating Business

Friday, March 08, 2019

Economic development strategies have evolved a great deal over the years. In the past, the primary focus was on recruiting the next big company to help boost a region’s economy. Today, there’s a recognition that community development and entrepreneurial support are an integral part of an expanded toolkit for building a sustainable future.

GROW South Dakota’s mission is providing innovative advancement of housing, education and economic opportunities throughout South Dakota. For more than five decades, the organization has been working towards this goal through a variety of programs to meet the needs of both individuals and businesses.

The nonprofit assists low-income families with achieving energy efficiency. In the last decade or so, GROW SD has started to do more lending around housing. It provides downpayment assistance and makes direct loans to people so they can purchase a home. GROW SD also assists startups and existing companies with its business lending program.

“We’ve grown substantially over the last 40 years. Business lending has become huge part of the organization,” says GROW SD CEO Lori Finnesand. “We do about 50 business loans each year in conjunction with local lenders.”

If a business has a specific need and wants more information on marketing or financial statements, GROW SD can provide coaching and additional assistance, according to Finnesand. And if GROW SD can’t help a business or individual directly, it has an established network of partners and can help people navigate to find the right organization to meet their needs.

GROW SD does a wide range of business lending. Loans amounts range from $500–$250,000 and help businesses acquire real estate, equipment and inventory or provide needed working capital.

In cases where banks are reluctant to offer loans to new entrepreneurs or startups due to perceived risk, GROW SD can often help. Hallie Konst was approved for a GROW SD loan to buy a daycare facility in Philip after having been turned down by a couple of other banks.

konst daycare“Without the local bank or financial institutions like GROW South Dakota, it would be impossible for the majority of young entrepreneurs to start a business of their own,” says Konst.

Hillarey Holland, owner of HH Design in Britton, used GROW SD funds to purchase a screen printing machine that enabled to expand her in-house services, which results in considerable savings.

HH DesignFinnesand notes that GROW SD can also partner with multiple lenders to help communities retain larger businesses that want to grow. “In the case of a large manufacturing expansion project, we may be the last money that comes into the deal — the missing piece of the puzzle to make a financial package come together,” she says.

GROW SD is known for its work in the northeastern corner of the state but recently expanded its services statewide. “I’d like us to be known as the go-to agency for housing and business lending in South Dakota,” says Finnesand. “We’re getting there.”

GROW South Dakota is a member of the South Dakota Prairie Gateway, a portal for economic development information in Eastern Rural Communities of South Dakota.

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